Centristic Cooking: Jeff Henderson's Chocolate S'more Bread Pudding

Life & Love | Blair Bedford | 02/21/2012 | 02:00 PM EST

The celebrated chef cooks up something sweet...

Chef Jeff Henderson hasn't always been known for his superlative culinary skills, and best selling autobiography, Cooked. Raised in the rough streets of Los Angeles' South Central neighborhood, Henderson served nearly ten years behind bars, after being charged with intent to distribute narcotics in 1987---A bid that helped him discover his passion for cooking. Fast-forward to 2012, and he's completely turned his life around.

In the years since, he has served as the Executive Chef at the famous Cafe Bellagio in Las Vegas, starred in his very own Food Network reality show, The Chef Jeff Projectand became the first African-American Chef de Cuisine at Caesar's Palace in 2001.

Using his second-chance success as an opportunity to give back, he now provides at-risk youth with jobs by hiring them to work for his catering company. In this installment of Epicurious, Chef Henderson throws back to his childhood to share his grandfather's Chocolate S'more Bread Pudding recipe---absolute decadence with a marshmallow on top.

Chocolate S'more Bread Pudding Serves 6 to 8, adapted from Belief Net


3 large eggs
4 cups milk
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1 cup small marshmallows
1/2 cup small bittersweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
3/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 teaspoon molasses
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
10 slices pecan-raisin bread
Vanilla Bean Ice Cream

The Method:

1. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add all the other ingredients except the bread and ice cream and stir to combine.

2. Cut the bread into small cubes and fold the bread into the egg mixture. Let stand for 1 hour, making sure the bread is immersed in the liquid.

3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

4. Scrape the bread mixture into a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Bake until the center is set, about 30 minutes. Serve warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream.

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