I’m gravitating to the comfort food lately that can be informally spooned from a bowl while sitting on a sofa and watching Sponge Bob with the kid. I know I will pay the price later exhausting myself with some sort of diet and pilates. This is the food my personal fitness trainer (if I had one) wouldn’t probably approve. But you have to give your soul what it’s asking for… right? I’ll deal with the consequences later, when the spring comes. Or summer.

Makes about 10 servings


  • 2 cups half-and-half (10 % cream)
  • 1 can (14 oz) dulce de leche (I always make mine by boiling a can of condensed milk for a couple of hours. I’ve been doing it for years without any accidents. It is safe, but make sure to use the biggest pot available, so, the water level will be well above the can all the time during the process (take an 8-quart pot if you have). And it makes a perfect sense to boil two or even three cans at a time.)
  • 8 cups about 1-inch-size cinnamon swirl bread cubes, lightly toasted (toast the slices in the toaster first, then cut them into cubes; or toast the cubes in the 350F oven for about 10 minutes, stirring once). I bake my own bread using this recipe, omitting the raisins and using all stated butter and cinnamon sugar for spreading/sprinkling over the rolled dough. But a store-brought bread will work just fine.
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 2 tbsp rum
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 4 oz bittersweet chocolate, chopped medium-fine
  • 1 tbsp Demerara sugar for sprinkling
  • Whipped cream with a touch of rum for serving (optional)
  • Dulce de leche sauce and/or your favorite chocolate sauce for serving (optional)


Generously butter a 7×11-inch or 9×13-inch ceramic or glass baking dish.

Place the cream and dulce de leche in a medium heavy saucepan and heat over medium heat, stirring, until the dulce de leche is melted and the mixture is smooth. Take of the heat and set aside to cool slightly.

Place the bread cubes into a large bowl. Set aside for a moment.

In another bowl, whisk together the eggs, yolks, rum, vanilla extract, and salt. Gradually, in a thin stream, whisk in the dulce de leche/cream mixture. Pour over the bread cubes and let soak for an hour, stirring gently once or twice, until the liquid is absorbed.

If you plan to bake the pudding the same day, center an oven rack and preheat the oven to 350F.

Once the custard is absorbed, delicately stir in the chopped chocolate and transfer the mixture into the prepared baking pan. The pudding can be made a day ahead up to this point. Cover it with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Let it stand at room temperature while preheating the oven.

Sprinkle the top of the pudding with the Demerara sugar. Place the baking dish in a large roasting pan, lined with a dish towel. Place the roasting pan on the oven rack, and pour enough hot water into the larger pan to come halfway up the sides of the pudding dish.

Bake the pudding for about 45 minutes, or just until the center is set when gently shaken. Transfer the pudding dish to a cooling rack and cool slightly. Serve with the whipped cream and the dulce de leche/chocolate sauce.

For the dulce de leche sauce, combine one part of the dulce de leche and one part of whipping cream in a small saucepan over medium heat; heat, whisking, to dissolve the dulce de leche, then add a splash of rum.