Velvety dark chocolate, bitter coffee, and warm spices combine in this rich and decadent Mocha Rum Bread Pudding. Top with an easy rum-spiked coconut whipped cream, and your guests will be clamoring for seconds (and begging you for the recipe!).
[This is the fourth installment in a series of recipes for hosting you own Caribbean Fete at home. Each recipe can be enjoyed on their own, or as part of a larger menu. For more on this theme, take a look at these previous posts for Rendezvous Rum Punch, Coconut & Pineapple Fried Rice, and Oven Baked Ribs in Sweet Rum Molasses Glaze.]
Variations on bread pudding recipes can be found all over the world. Typically made with hunks of stale bread, milk, and eggs, the base recipe is highly customizable. When I looked into traditional desserts of the Caribbean, it wasn’t surprising that I stumbled on a plethora of bread pudding options. For my version of the recipe, coffee and rum seemed like perfect choices to add, both being major exports of the Caribbean islands, and chocolate (as it does with most things in my opinion) pairs beautifully with both.
Mocha Rum Bread Pudding
Long before I developed a taste for coffee on its own, I’ve had a love for mochas. To be frank – you can probably add chocolate to most things and I’ll be pretty happy about it. I remember when a giant iced mocha latte was the only thing that would keep me going as I researched and read twelve to fifteen hours a day during my time in graduate school.
I didn’t develop my passion for liquor, and especially rum, until later, but if I had I might have included it in my daily regime. Not only is this dessert inspired by Caribbean flavors for our Caribbean Fete menu, it’s also an ode to my notorious love of these three essential ingredients – coffee, chocolate, and rum.
Mocha Rum Bread Pudding is best served warm, accompanied with a heaping spoonful of homemade coconut whipped cream spiked with even more spiced rum. After all, the liquor in the recipe proper cooks out as it bakes, so why not add some more to give our dessert a little after-dinner kick?
If coconut whipped cream isn’t your thing, a scoop of delicious coconut or vanilla ice cream will be just as good in its own way. I’ve tried both, and you can’t go wrong with Talenti’s Caribbean Coconut Ice Cream. Both the whipped cream and the ice cream have a nice effect of balancing the richness of the dark chocolate in Mocha Rum Bread Pudding.
If you manage have some leftover the next day, you can absolutely eat this bread pudding right out of the fridge cold. I know I was, and so was one of my guests the day after our Caribbean Fete trial run, who just had a big bowl of it for brunch in the morning. It’s that good people.
Can we also take a moment to just marvel at how beautiful challah bread is? No, I didn’t bake this – I just love the look of it. It’s so photogenic.
The Various Types of Baking Chocolate
Have you ever wondered why some recipes call for chopped chocolate bars rather than chocolate chips? I always did. Chocolate chips are so much easier than chopping up a bar of chocolate, right? Well, there is a good reason, and I’ll explain why I call for both in the recipe below.
Conventional store-bought chocolate chips and morsels contain stabilizers that keep them from completely melting when heated. That’s why the chips in your chocolate chip cookies can retain that perfect little morsel shape so well. The type of stabilizer can vary, and while some bakers might speak against them in general, I think they have their place. If you want your chocolate chips to retain shape, or you just want to make a really quick batch of cookies to satisfy a sweet craving, morsels are the way to go.
Now, if you want to make a ganache or melt chocolate into a sauce, taking the extra step to chop up bars of chocolate will give you the best results. In general, chocolate bars do not contain the same stabilizers as chips, so chopped chocolate (whether in chunks or fine shreds) melt more easily and, I’d argue, often taste better assuming you go for a brand of reputable quality. My go-to is Ghirardelli, but I’ve used Scharffen-Berger when it’s been on sale and loved that too. I’ve also heard great things about Valrhona, but haven’t use it myself yet. Ultimately, you want a bar that you’d enjoy snaking on plain, but not one that breaks the bank when you need to use half a pound of the stuff. Once chopped up, it will melt easily into a ganache or cream, leaving you with a velvety, rich texture. If you’d like to learn more about all the varieties of chocolate you can use, check out this detailed article on types of baking chocolate from Bon Appetit.
My recipe for Mocha Rum Bread Pudding calls for chopped chocolate bars to melt into the heated cream, and chocolate chips or morsels to be stirred into the bread mixture. The first will soak up beautifully into the bread, and the second will give each bite a little burst of chocolate that stands out against the rest.
Easy Spiked Coconut Whipped Cream Topping
This isn’t a new trick, but it’s still one I absolutely love because it allows me to make a quick whipped cream on a whim. All you need is chilled can of coconut milk. That’s it. Sugar and a little bit of booze are optional. Once a can of coconut milk is refrigerated overnight, the cream and water will separate in the can. If you carefully remove just the cream, you can whip it up into a quick whipped cream. Leave it as is for a bit of balance on an already sweet dish, or you can add some powdered sugar to sweeten it like a traditional whipped cream. Lastly, add a tablespoon or two of rum or flavored vodka to give it a little kick. It’s that easy. I keep a can of coconut milk in my fridge all the time just so I can always have this available for hosting on a moment’s notice.
For this recipe, I recommend whipping the cream in a stand mixer, but you can use a hand mixer or even a whisk if you have the arm strength. I’m just a slave to my kitchen robots at this point. The Mocha Rum Bread Pudding is sweet enough that sugar isn’t necessary, but a nice ounce of spiced rum gives the whole dish a little extra something with minimal added effort. Give it a try.
Or just drop a dollop of delicious ice cream on the Mocha Rum Bread Pudding and save yourself the extra dishes. You do you!
I am sure your friends and family would be overjoyed to share this recipe of Mocha Rum Bread Pudding with you, and I hope you try it out for yourself! Bread puddings have never been my go-to dessert, but now I find myself idly daydreaming about the decadent flavors and textures of this dish pretty often.
Oh, and I almost forgot the best part – you can make this whole thing two days ahead and just bake it the day of, making it the perfect dish for hosting at home.
You can’t get much better than that in a homemade dessert!
Mocha Rum Bread Pudding with Spiked Coconut Whipped Cream
Mocha Rum Bread Pudding
- 1 Tbsp butter (to grease the baking dish)
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 2 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 8 oz semi-sweet chocolate baking bar, chopped fine
- 6 large eggs
- 2/3 cup +1 Tbsp raw Turbinado sugar
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 2 Tbsp spiced rum (my preferred brand is Kraken)
- 1/2 cup fresh brewed coffee, room temperature
- 1 loaf challah bread, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
- 12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- Coconut whipped cream or coconut ice cream, for serving
Spiked Coconut Whipped Cream
- 1 (14 oz) can full fat coconut milk, refrigerated overnight
- 2 Tbsp spiced rum
Mocha Rum Bread Pudding
Preheat oven to 350 F. Prepare a large baking dish by greasing it generously with butter. I used a 4 quart ceramic casserole dish, which had more than enough room for all of the finished bread pudding.
Combine cream and vanilla extract in a sauce pan over medium high heat and bring to a boil. As soon as it starts to bubble, remove from heat and add the 8 ounces of chopped chocolate. Let this sit for 2-3 minutes, and then whisk together briskly until blended.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs well, then beat in 2/3 cup of sugar until just combined. Whisk in the salt, rum, and room temperature coffee. If the coffee is still warm, you can slowly add it in as you whisk, gently tempering the eggs (Basically, you don’t want to accidentally cook the eggs by introducing a hot element too quickly). Whisk the cooled chocolate-cream mixture into the egg mixture.
Place the cubed challah bread in the prepared baking dish, and pour half of the chocolate-egg mixture over top. Add the chocolate chips and stir everything together until all of the bread is just damp. Pour the remaining chocolate-egg mixture over the top of the bread cubes, evenly distributing it. Sprinkle with cinnamon and the remaining one tablespoon of sugar. At this point, you may bake the dessert immediately, or refrigerate for up to two days, covered in plastic wrap.
Bake the bread pudding for 40-50 minutes in the pre-heated oven. Let it sit for 15 minutes before serving. Spoon out generous warm portions, topped with coconut ice cream or spiked coconut whipped cream.
Spiked Coconut Whipped Cream
Right before serving, spoon out only the hardened cream into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, leaving behind the separated coconut water (discard or reserve for another use). Add the spiked rum and whip until soft peaks form. Serve immediately.