This is also delicious with dried cherries or raisins instead of apricots. My fella, Derek, eats bites of the buttery top layer as it’s cooking in the pot, and can’t be bothered to wait for the egg to set up, much less for the brandy sauce to be added. The sauce might seem like overkill, but do try it if you want to make this classic country dessert a little bit city.
- 1 round loaf crusty white bread
- 1 cup dried apricots, halved (see Notes)
- ½ cup brandy
- 3 tablespoons butter, softened
- 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
- 3 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy cream
- ½ cup plus 1 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch of salt
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon cacao nibs (see Notes)
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup sugar
- ½ cup brandy, or ¼ cup brandy plus ¼ cup water
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 1 large egg
- 2 tablespoons heavy cream
Preheat the oven to 250°F.
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes and place them in one layer on a half-sheet pan. Place in the oven for 20 minutes to dry out and become slightly crisp. Set aside.
Soak the apricots in the brandy and ½ cup warm water for 20 minutes. Drain, reserving the soaking liquid, and set aside.
Use 1 tablespoon of the butter to grease a 4-quart slow cooker, greasing all the way up the sides of the insert. Place the bread cubes, apricots, and chocolate in the cooker and toss to combine.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, ½ cup of the sugar, the salt, and the apricot soaking liquid and stir until the sugar is almost dissolved. Pour the mixture over the ingredients in the cooker and push the bread cubes down into the liquid to completely cover them and even out the top.
Generously dot the top with the remaining 2 tablespoons butter, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 teaspoon sugar, the cinnamon, and cacao nibs. Cook, covered, on the low setting for 3 to 4 hours. Turn off the heat and let the pudding rest while you prepare the Brandy Sauce.
In a 2-quart saucepan over medium heat, melt the butter. Add the sugar, brandy, cinnamon, and salt and whisk to combine. Cook at a simmer, whisking, until the sugar is dissolved and the mixture is light in color and foamy. Remove from the heat. In a small bowl, beat the egg until frothy, then gradually whisk it into the mixture in the saucepan. Return the pan to medium heat and cook for about 2 minutes, stirring constantly, until thickened.
Stir in the cream and remove from the heat. Keep at room temperature for up to 4 hours, until ready to use; or cover and refrigerate, then reheat in a microwave oven and stir in a few teaspoons of water to thin the sauce a bit.
Spoon the pudding out onto individual plates, drizzle with the sauce, and serve.
Nutritional information is based on using a 1lb round loaf of crusty white bread.