Bread Pudding with Chocolate Chunks and Bananas
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 medium bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2 –inch-thick slices
2 cups heavy whipping cream
2 cups whole milk
8 large eggs
1-tablespoon vanilla extract
8 ounces coarsely chopped bittersweet chocolate
1-pound day-old brioche or challah bread cut into 1/2 –inch cubes
Vanilla Sauce (recipe follows)
Powdered sugar, for dusting
2 cups whole milk
½ cup sugar
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
6 large egg yolks
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Coat a 13x9x2-inch baking dish with 1 tablespoon of butter. Melt the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a heavy small skillet over medium-high heat until it foams, about 1 minute. Add the banana and toss to coat. Using a fork, very coarsely mash the bananas. Set aside to cool.
Whisk the cream, milk, sugar, eggs, and vanilla in a large bowl to blend. Fold in the mashed bananas and chopped chocolate. Add the bread cubes and toss to coat. Let the mixture stand for 25 minutes, tossing to coat. Let the mixture stand for 25 minutes, tossing occasionally, to allow the bread to absorb the custard. Transfer the mixture to the prepared baking dish, spreading evenly.
Bake until the center is set and the bread pudding is golden brown on top, about 55 minutes. Let stand 30 minutes to cool slightly.
Cut the warm bread pudding into squares. Transfer the bread pudding to plates and spoon the cold Vanilla Sauce around the bread pudding. Dusts with powdered sugar serve.
Combine the milk and ¼ cup of sugar in a heavy medium saucepan. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the milk mixture, and then add the bean. Bring the milk mixture to a simmer over medium-high heat. Remove from heat.
Whisk the egg yolks to remaining ¼ cups of sugar in a large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in the hot milk mixture. Pour the custard into the same medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of the spoon (do not allow the custard to boil, or the custard will curdle), stirring constantly, about 8 minutes.
Poor the custard trough a fine-meshed strainer and into a medium bowl. Discard the solids. Place the bowl of custard atop a large bowl of ice water, and stir the custard until it is cool. Cover the custard, and refrigerate until it is cold.