Roger Freedman, the chef at Rendezvous Bistro in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, created this indulgent recipe almost by accident: "I was making bread pudding at the Bistro and ran out of bread. I happened to have day-old croissants on the shelf, so I thought I'd give them a try. It turned out the croissants added a richness that bread wouldn't have." Freedman folds the pastries into a chocolate custard mixed with bits of chopped milk chocolate, then bakes everything in one big dish.
3 cups whole milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 pound milk chocolate, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
6 croissants, about 1 pound cut into 1-inch pieces
Vanilla or coffee ice cream, for serving optional
How to Make It
Preheat the oven to 350°. In a medium saucepan, combine the whole milk with the vanilla bean and seeds and the salt and bring to a simmer. Cover and let the milk stand off the heat for 15 minutes. Discard the vanilla bean. Add half of the chopped milk chocolate to the warm milk and whisk until smooth. Let the milk and chocolate mixture cool for 15 minutes. Whisk in the eggs.
In a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, toss the croissant pieces with the remaining chopped milk chocolate. Pour the chocolate custard over the croissant pieces; press lightly to submerge them in the custard. Bake for 30 minutes, until the bread pudding is risen and set. Let the chocolate bread pudding cool slightly, then cut it into squares and serve warm, with ice cream.