Chocolate Almond Bettelman Bread Pudding Recipe

Chocolate Almond Bettelman

If you’ve ever bought or baked fresh brioche, surely you’ve noted the subtle shift, occurring sometime during day two or three, when said brioche turns from something you can’t keep your hands off of, to something you feel you should be eating because it’s there.

When that initial magic is gone, the toaster can help revive it to a certain extent, especially if you top it with thin slivers of salted butter and generous amounts of grated chocolate straight out of the toaster. But my favorite thing to do is to give an entirely new life to the brioche, either by cooking a simple pain perdu (“lost bread,” the actual French toast) in the skillet, or by baking it into a bettelman.

Bettelman is the Alsatian word for bread pudding: it means “beggar” in the Alsatian dialect, and I like the reminder that it is, at heart, a thrifty dish, meant to use up scraps of bread. I first learned about it from Christophe Vasseur, who runs the now deliriously popular Parisian bakery Du Pain et des Idées and bakes a wonderful apple bettelman drawn from his childhood memories, for which he kindly shared the recipe for my book Clotilde’s Edible Adventures in Paris.

The bettelman I’m presenting here is a different — and slightly more indulgent — version with chocolate and almonds, and it is an equally easy and enthusing way to upcycle your brioche: cubed and soaked in an egg and milk batter made chocolate-y by the addition of cocoa powder, it is then layered with chocolate chunks and chopped almonds, and baked until custardy in the middle and crusty-crisp at the top.

If it’s not brioche you have on hand, but challah or croissants or any other kind of bread enriched with milk and/or eggs, feel free to substitute that. The recipe can also be made with stale bread of any kind, though the texture will be less pillowy then. And if you have less than 200 grams or 7 ounces of brioche leftover, feel free to cube it and keep it in the freezer until you have enough to make the recipe.

Chocolate Almond Bettelman

– 200 grams (7 ounces) stale brioche (or challah, or croissants)
– 30 grams (1 ounce, 2 tablespoons) unrefined blond cane sugar
– 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder
– 1 large organic egg
– 1 teaspoon natural vanilla extract (possibly homemade)
– a good pinch of sea salt
– 180 ml (3/4 cup) milk (dairy or non-dairy)
– 70 grams (2.5 ounces) good-quality bittersweet chocolate, roughly chopped
– 50 grams (1.7 ounces) whole almonds, roughly chopped
– A pat of butter or a touch of oil to grease the ramekins

Serves 4

Cut the brioche into cubes. In a medium mixing bowl, whisk together the sugar, cocoa, egg, vanilla, and salt. Pour in the milk and whisk again. Add the brioche and stir well to coat. Cover and let rest for at least 1 hour or overnight in the fridge, stirring from time to time. If the brioche is very dry and it looks like there isn’t enough liquid to soak it thoroughly, add a little more milk.

Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F) and grease 4 ramekins. Fill them by half with the brioche mixture. Top with half of the chocolate and half of the almonds. Add the rest of the brioche, and then the rest of the chocolate and almonds.

Place the ramekins in a baking dish large enough to accommodate them comfortably, and pour very hot water at the bottom, up to about half the height of the ramekins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, just until set (avoid overbaking). Serve slightly warm, with an optional spoonful of crème fraîche on top.

Cooking/baking time: 20 min

  • I still have yet to be enchanted by bread pudding >.< But I think your chocolate, almond brioche version has all the makings of a convert out of me!

  • What a great recipe to use leftover brioche :)

  • Stale bread is a wonderful ingredient! Love the name sounds so much better than croissant pudding – screams leftovers. I have to avoid obvious food recycling as yacht guests (and even crew too) turn their nose up at leftovers, something about the opulence encourages villainous waste.

    • What an interesting (and somewhat depressing) observation! I’m sure it makes you even more creative, though.

  • Absolutely LOVE the name “bettelman.” First read this and thought it sounded like a piece of IKEA furniture, maybe because we spent last night assembling the “manstad.” These look much more charming (and delicious.) :)

    • You made me laugh with the IKEA comment. I picture the BETTELMAN as a comfy, cushy chair that would require no assembly. :)

  • Mmm, bread pudding is a favourite in our house. My mum made it a lot when I was growing up but never with chocolate!

    I sometimes make an orange version with marmalade spread on brioche and Cointreau in the custard.

    • The orange version sounds lovely! It is, indeed, a good opportunity to use a nice jam or preserve if you’re not a big jam or preserve eater otherwise.

  • My mother buys brioche loaves especially to make bread-and-butter pudding – she made it once instead of the fruit puddings she usually makes as my son-in-law isn’t all that keen on cooked fruit, and it was so popular she has had to make it every time we all go down there! I must point her in the direction of this recipe – I can see her making it for a dinner-party!

    • Do report back if she ends up trying it!

  • This with Bordier butter..aaaaaah!

  • Absolutely wonderful idea. I suppose panettone would work just as well?

    • Absolutely, good suggestion! It is indeed soon the season of panettone, and soon after that the season of stale panettone. :)

    • That’s a nice idea. I simply love fresh panettone. Guess what’s my wife gonna make me for the weekend? :) At least I hope she will

  • Marie Leon

    This seems like a wonderful recipe! a perfect holiday treat for guests. It reminds me of the recipes I found in chef lis morgan’s cookbook. here

  • Rosemary

    What a hoot – just today I came upon a recipe for wild mushroom bread pudding in Gourmet’s special holiday edition. It used brioche, and now I see a second recipe for a fancied up bread pudding. I’ll have to try them both!

  • Madonna

    We love bread pudding at our house, and this recipe is a “must try” for me. My father was from Louisiana’s Cajun country, and bread pudding was always a way to use up leftover bread. I make mine in that style, with lots of cream, sugar, and raisins. It’s traditionally served with a whisky sauce, but I prefer brandy. So I soak the raisins in brandy before adding them to the pudding and also use brandy in the sauce. Now I have a craving for bread pudding. I’m hoping my favorite local bakery has brioche this weekend.

  • I love brioche bread and butter pudding but only ever do it for a Sunday dinner i.e. huge dish for everyone to dig in to. Yours sounds perfect for the next time someone comes round for dinner.
    On a different note, I have just read of a new restaurant/shop that is opening in San Francisco called Schulzies (I think) that are going to be selling 108 flavours of bread pudding… not quite sure about the more obscure versions but the concept sounds wonderful.

  • This recipe looks really good. I can’t wait it give it a try.

  • Sapna

    This looks delicious! What kind of a pan would I use to bake this if ramekins weren’t an option? Can I assemble it in the pan some hours before and bake it just before serving? Thanks!! :)

    • Do you have muffin tins? You could use those. Alternatively, you could double the recipe and bake it in a loaf pan.

      And you can definitely assemble the bettelman in the tins or pan a few hours ahead and bake before serving. Just remember to allow for some cooling time as this is best served just a little warm, not piping hot. Do report back when you try it!

  • Sapna

    I made it in a loaf pan and it was a hit! I used about 5.5 croissants (Costco size) and doubled the liquid measurements. I baked it the night before but reheated it a little in the microwave before serving and it was at just the right temperature. Thanks a lot for the recipe!! :)

    • So great to hear, Sapna, thank you!

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