I like that fact that bread pudding is a cross between a custard and a cake. I also like that it tends to be a family-style dessert, baked in a big casserole dish or a loaf pan and and portioned out into both big and small servings. It can be made in advance and can also serve a crowd. But as nice as it is as a family-style, comfort food dish, it can be just as nice when it is put in a smaller package made into something a little more elegant. With single serving bread puddings, you get the flavor of all that comfort food in a dressed up package.
These Individual Nutella Bread Puddings are very rich tasting and not too sweet. There is quite a lot of Nutella – a creamy chocolate hazelnut spread – in the bread pudding mixture, so these have a nice hazelnut flavor to the, as well as a good chocolate flavor. Adding in some chocolate chips really ups the amount of chocolate you taste in each bite – especially when this bread pudding is served hot and the chips are still melty. These are also tasty when chilled, though leftovers will heat up well in the microwave.
These puddings are easy enough to make for everyday occasions, but they make a fantastic and easy-to-make special occasion dessert as well. Valentine’s Day and anniversaries in particular are perfect for a chocolaty dessert like this, where you can give your loved one his or her own serving, or the two of you can split one. I like these plain, but a little dollop of whipped cream or even a bit of vanilla ice cream melting on top of a hot bread pudding would really finish things off well. +Continue Reading
This week (and this upcoming week of Jan 31- Feb 5) was restaurant week in Los Angeles. This means that some of the restaurants around the city are participating in an event called DineLA where they offer special, three-course set menus at a special price. I took advantage of this to take in a lunch at Spago. The restaurant was lovely, the food was delicious, but I have to say that the highlight of the meal was meeting Wolfgang Puck himself. He made the rounds of the dining room and patio several times, shaking hands with guests and even sitting down a few times to chat. I think that I was the first to break out a camera, but I was certainly not the only one in the restaurant who wanted to capture the moment and many cameras popped out as he posed with diners. I was a little flustered (perhaps the food blogger’s equivalent of being slightly starstruck), but found him to be nothing by incredibly friendly. Also, for the record, I think that he looks much younger in person than he does in photos and on TV. Lest you think that he was only making a show, he also went back to the kitchen (my table shared a glass wall with the kitchen) to work on the food.
Laminated dough is a baking term that can show up from time to time that is often not fully described. Lamination is term for the process of alternating layers of dough and butter when making pastry. The dough is wrapped around butter (so that the butter is completely enclosed in dough and cannot slip out), the “package” is rolled out, folded over to double the number of layers, and then the whole thing is repeated. Each time the dough is folded, it is called a “turn.” The more turns your laminated dough has, the more flaky your finished pastry will be. Laminated doughs include puff pastry, croissant dough and danish dough.
Technically the fat used to make a laminated dough could be something other than butter and the name would be the same, but the best tasting and best looking laminated doughs use butter. Butter is essentially made of milk fat/solids and water. When heated, the water in butter turns to steam. The thin layers of butter in laminated dough cause the dough to puff up and rise during baking, giving croissants and puff pastry their layered and crispy look, and the milk solids in the butter cause the pastry to brown – and, of course, taste delicious.
Oatmeal chocolate chip cookies are great because they deliver all the chocolate and all the buttery flavor of a regular chocolate chip cookie, with a little bit more texture and a delicious oaty, nutty flavor on top. When you toast nuts, you bring out their nuttiness even more, and this same thing works on oats. So, I added some toasted, sweetened granola right into this batch of cookies where I might have otherwise just used oatmeal. I got cookies that delivered even more flavor than before.
The cookies are thick and seem hearty, because of the granola. They are slightly chewy and crisp on the outside. You can definitely taste the flavors from the granola, whether yours is sweetened with maple syrup, honey or sugar, in the cookies, too.
I just used a plain granola (Cascadian Farms Organic Oats and Honey, to be specific), without any added nuts or dried fruits, so that I could really find the granola flavor in the finished cookies. I added in chocolate chips and chopped, toasted pecans separately. You can use just about any type of granola you like in these, whether it has nuts or dried fruits already added. The only thing you need to do to prep your granola is to chop it into small pieces – chocolate chip or almond sized clusters – before mixing it in so that you get an even distribution of granola throughout the cookies.