Why does fresh bread in a bakery or grocery store make us go gaga? It’s like we can’t get enough, and even if there’s plenty at home, we never really think there is.

At some point, that rationale leads to a bottleneck in the bread bin, and our baked goods go bad before we can eat them. Then comes the inevitable push toward the trash.

The next time you even think that might happen, stop yourself! Wars have been fought over bread, for goodness’ sake. There has to be a better end for that bâtard … and there is: turn it into dessert.

When life gives you stale bread, make pudding

We weren’t kidding about the wars thing. As a result, many European and Mediterranean cuisines looked for ways to repurpose even stale bread so families wouldn’t go hungry. Thanks to their ingenuity, some of the best dishes have emerged from their efforts. One is panzanella. Another is bread pudding.

Bread by any other name

Bread pudding is baked dessert that can be served hot or cold and flavored in a multitude of ways. The basics require ingredients similar to custard: milk or cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, and spices. Just tear up your bread pieces, pour over your flavor mixture, bake, and you’re done.

This version adds more richness to the dish with coconut and chocolate. Like other recipes with so few ingredients, it’s important that they’re high quality, so try to buy the best you can afford. Although an eggy French brioche is perfect, plain ol’ white would work just fine. Valrhona chocolate is extravagantly good, but so are store-brand chips.

Regardless, make this once and you’ll never complain about bread going bad again. You’ll probably end up buying more.

Coconut Chocolate Bread Pudding


  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
  • 5 ounces day-old bread with crust on, torn into pieces
  • ½ cup coconut shavings
  • ½ cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350°F (180°C). Butter a 2½-quart baking dish.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together butter, milk, cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Stir in bread, coconut and chocolate. The mixture will be quite loose.
  3. Pour into prepared pan and bake for 45 minutes or until top is golden and custard is somewhat set. Serve warm.