APPCA member Jim Huff of the Traveling Culinary Artist in New York is a self-described Nutella-holic, constantly fiddling with Nutella desserts. He admits that many have been complete failures while others have been just passable, thanks to the Nutella. And there have been some good and a few great. One of the great ones is this bread pudding.
So, how did it come about? As chefs, I’m sure you’ve had what you thought was a great idea for a dish that contains an ingredient you’re passionate about. Then reality hits as you struggle to turn that concept into reality. This bread pudding was no different. Its roots come from banana bread, specifically Kathy Huff’s Banana Nut Bread. Jim’s wife made this on request for get togethers f0r years. The recipe itself was no secret. It came from the Jiffy Mix baking mix box. Unfortunately, by the late ’80s, Jiffy Mix was becoming hard to find and what Jim could find didn’t yield the delicious bread everyone had loved.
“We ordered some directly from Jiffy and by the time we used them up they must have been stale because the famous Banana Nut Bread was never as good as we remembered,” Jim says.
In the meantime, Jim’s grandmother had given him James Beard’s famous Beard on Bread cookbook, which Jim fell in love with. So the Huffs started making the quick breads from the book.
Then Nutella entered the equation. According to Jim, “The idea for the recipe came from two of these experiments. 1. Nutella Bread Pudding–great concept boring application. Might as well have made good brioche toast with Nutella spread on it! 2. Banana bread with Nutella swirled a la Marble cake. The Nutella ended up gathering itself while baking and the result was more like blobs than swirls! My quest for a great Nutella Bread Pudding led me to the Internet. I found lots of recipes adding bananas and or chocolate chips, etc. Then I had an epiphany, what if I used Banana Bread! I found many bread pudding recipes using banana bread, now to adapt, using bananas, Nutella and Chocolate Chips.”
Good enough, but then there was the quest to turn this concept into individual desserts, something that could be served at the dinner parties he caters.
“We find we get great response for people receiving their ‘own’ self-contained slice of heaven versus an actual slice of something made en masse,” he explains. “So simultaneously my Internet searches included bread pudding in muffin tin recipes.”
The problem was coming up with the right ratio of bread to custard, plus factoring in using muffin tins. Every chef friend and home baker Jim consulted had their own advice–more milk/less egg, soak longer/don’t soak. “A less obsessed person would have moved on,” he jokes.
But eventually, after many failed attempts they finally got the right proportions of bread, custard, Nutella, and banana bread down pat–and they did their testing in oversized muffin tins. The biggest test? How would their son-in-law, also a borderline Nutella-holic like it? But all was well after sending their daughter home with two. His comment after his second bite? “There’s only two?”
Jim and Kathy added the bread pudding to their menu, pairing it with vanilla gelato and caramel drizzle. They got their first request for a client party of 10 and plated their new creation over raspberry sauce. Everyone loved it but couldn’t finish it because the portion was too big. So, they’ve downsized it to standard muffin size. And, as Jim says, “They’re always devoured completely!”
The recipe is still a work in progress. The Beard on Bread recipe calls for nuts, which Jim’s omitted. But now he says he’ll be experimenting–with hazelnuts of course.
Nutella Banana Bread Bread Pudding
from Jim Huff of Traveling Culinary Artist
Use the banana bread recipe you like. We link below to the banana bread recipe found in Beard on Bread, which is what Jim uses.
6 slices banana bread, ¾”-1” thick
4 ripe bananas
1/3 cup Nutella
3 large eggs
1 cup whole milk
½ teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
Cut the banana bread into small cubes.
Place onto a baking sheet and bake at 350°F for 5 minutes to create dry stale bread. Cut into cubes and set aside.
In a large mixing bowl mash the ripe bananas with a potato masher. Add in the Nutella and mix with the masher until blended with the potato masher. Add the eggs and mix until blended, add the milk, cinnamon, and vanilla extract. Stir.
Once fully mixed add your bread cubes and stir until the bread is totally wet. Let it soak for 10 minutes. Stir again and spoon mix into a 6 cup extra large muffin tins. Sprinkle mini chocolate chips on top.
Bake at 350°F 25 to 30 minutes until set. Let rest for 10 minutes. Remove from the tins and serve immediately.
Serve with vanilla gelato and a drizzle of salted caramel!
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