Chocolate bread pudding

Chocolate Bread Pudding
1 tablespoon butter or margarine
1 1/2 cups loosely packed 1/2 inch bread cubes (use French, Italian or Vienna bread)
Scant 1 cup half and half or milk
1 envelope or
1 ounce square unsweetened chocolate
1 large egg
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla
Hard Sauce (see below)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. For the pudding, use a small flat-bottom casserole or a 6 inch souffle dish. Melt butter in dish while preheating oven. Add bread cubes; toss with a fork to mix; set aside. In small saucepan, combine half and half with chocolate. Whisk over low heat until mixture is hot and thoroughly blended. In a small bowl, combine egg, sugar, salt and vanilla; whisk to blend. Slowly add hot chocolate mixture, while whisking. Pour over bread cubes; mix gently, but thoroughly. Set dish in pan containing 1/2 inch warm tap water. Bake until a rinsed knife inserted half way to center comes out clean, not milky, 25 to 30 minutes. Remove dish from hot water; cool about 20 minutes before serving. Serve warm with Hard Sauce or serve cool with whipped cream.
Hard Sauce:
2 tablespoons butter, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 to 2 teaspoons brandy or dark rum
In a small bowl, beat butter and sugar with a fork until light. Gradually beat in brandy or rum until no more liquid can be absorbed. Spoon into 2 mounds; cover and chill. Set out about 20 minutes before serving on warm bread pudding.
Makes 2 large servings.

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