Chocolate-Cherry Bread Pudding
2/3 cup Kirsch, Grand Marnier or orange juice
1 ½ cups (about 10 oz.) dried cherries
1 loaf (roughly 12 oz.) challah, cut into 1 ½" pieces
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
10 oz. semisweet dark chocolate, such as Scharffen Berger
2 cups half-and-half
1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla extract
In small saucepan, heat Kirsch over medium-low heat until just simmering; remove from heat. Stir in cherries; let stand, covered, 1 hr. In an extra-large mixing bowl, drizzle bread with butter; toss to coat. Pour half of the bread in a 3 qt. glass baking dish sprayed with cooking spray; scatter 2/3 of the chocolate over the bread. Spoon 2/3 of the cherries with the soaking liquid over the chocolate; top with remaining bread. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, half-and-half, cheese, cream, sugar and vanilla; pour into baking dish. Cover with waxed paper and weigh paper down with sticks of butter or bags of shredded cheese, etc.; let stand 45 min. to overnight. Remove weights and wax paper; cover with foil. Bake in a preheated 350° oven 45 min.; uncover and bake until pudding is set and barely wiggles in the center (about 30 min. longer). Scatter remaining chocolate and soaked fruit on pudding; let stand 30 min. Serve warm.
Good to Know: Find challah on the Artisan Bread Table in the Bakery Department.