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Chocolate and red wine bread pudding James Briscione

Photo: Andrew Purcell

James Briscione's Chocolate and Red Wine Bread Pudding

Chef and restaurateur James Briscione has a scientist's eye for food. When he's not cooking it, he's thinking about how we taste it, and how to make it taste better. This recipe from his book Flavor For All is the perfect dessert for a romantic dinner for two, or Valentine's Day date.

08 February, 2021
Average: 3.3 (13 votes)

serves for



Bread pudding
Caster sugar
1 cup
4, large
Cocoa powder
1/4 cup
Vanilla extract
2 teaspoons
2 cups
French bread
One 12-inch loaf, crusts trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes
Unsalted butter
8 tablespoons, cut into cubes
Bittersweet chocolate
2 cups (12 onces) chopped
Bourbon whiskey
1/2 cup
1 cup, optional
Merlot sauce
Red wine
1 cup
Caster sugar
1 cup
1 cup

We have always enjoyed nibbling on a little dark chocolate while sipping red wine or a little bourbon at the end of a meal. It’s clear why: These three ingredients are a very strong match based on their aroma profiles. They all develop similar toasted aromas, but in different ways—bourbon and wine draw them from the wooden barrels they are aged in, while cocoa beans develop them during drying and roasting. However it happens, when combined into a warm, comforting bread pudding with a creamy sauce, the result is magical.

Step 01

Make the bread pudding

In a large bowl, combine the sugar, eggs, cocoa, and vanilla and whisk until smooth. Add the milk, nutmeg, and cinnamon and continue whisking to combine. Stir in the bread, mix well, and set aside for the bread to soften, about 30 minutes.

The bread should soak up nearly all of the custard. Occasionally stir the bowl from the bottom to evenly distribute the custard.


Step 02

While the bread is soaking, preheat the oven to 350° F. Grease a 13 x 9-inch baking dish.


Step 03

When the bread is completely softened, add the butter, chocolate, bourbon, and pistachios, if using. Stir well. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes, or until the center of the bread pudding is just set. The surface should be browned and firm to the touch with a bit of give. When you lightly press in the center, no liquid should rise to the surface.


Step 04

Let cool in the baking dish on a wire rack for at least 15 minutes.


Step 05

Make the sauce

Combine the wine and sugar in a small saucepot and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and simmer until reduced by half, about 8 minutes. Add the cream and cook for about 2 minutes more, until the sauce is thick and smooth. 


Step 06

Serve the bread pudding drizzled with a generous amount of the merlot sauce. Store any leftover bread pudding tightly wrapped in the refrigerator for up to 10 days and reheat to serve.

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