Bubble Chandelier and Banana Bread Pudding

Let me first start with the banana bread pudding, a dessert that I made this past Sunday because I had all the right ingredients. It was truly a serendipitous moment.

My kids do not like pre-sliced bread for their sandwiches, and they do not like any other bread except challah bread. Luckily I like to shop at Trader Joe's and they have a challah loaf that fits the bill. If I slice it evenly, one loaf will yield a week's worth of lunchbox sandwiches for these unreasonably picky kids.

By week's end, I'm left with the loaf ends and I hate wasting food. So I do the responsible thing and encourage the kids or my husband Dave to eat the ends. But it's as if I'm asking them to clean the bathroom toilets or take out the garbage. Call me crazy, but I don't think that eating loaf ends should be seen as a disgusting chore.

A month ago I decided that I would save the loaf ends to make bread pudding. This was an ambitious decision because the one and only other time I made bread pudding was a disaster. Let's just say that substituting a pint of half-n-half with rice milk was not the smartest thing to do. 

On Sunday, I opened up my freezer and noticed that I had enough loaf ends for bread pudding. I also had one very ripe banana and some left over dark chocolate from cookies I made a few weeks ago. Hmm, I thought to myself, would banana bread pudding with dark chocolate chips taste good? 

I am happy to report that my second attempt was a successful one: the right amount of banana flavor balanced with the chocolate, the bread pudding moist yet firm. And although it didn't need any accompanying dessert, I added a scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side. 

Here is the recipe:

Banana Bread Pudding with Dark Chocolate Chips

1 large ripe banana
1/2 cup of granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 cups half-n-half
3 large eggs

approximately 4 cups challah bread, toasted and cubed
1 cup of smashed dark chocolate chips*

Generously grease the surface of a 8" square baking dish with butter. (You can also use a loaf pan.) Toss in the challah bread and chocolate chips. Set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, mash up the banana until it has the consistency of pudding. Mix in the sugar and vanilla extract. Then add the half-n-half. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Pour mixture over the challah bread/chocolate chips in the baking dish and let the pudding set for an hour. 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Bake in the center rack for 35 minutes. Let the pudding set for an additional 15 minutes after taking it out of the oven. Serve it warm or room temperature.

(*I like to smash a bar of dark chocolate with a mallet to make the chips more shard-like. Place the chocolate in a ziplock bag and make sure let out most of the air before working the bar over with the mallet.)

Now on to my bubble chandelier.

Over eight months ago, I was perusing through an issue of ReadyMade magazine and spied a DIY bubble chandelier. I made it immediately, but I was afraid to install the darn thing in my house because, well, I'm not an electrician. So it sat in a well padded crate in the corner of my work room, collecting dust, and living through other indignities that a bubble chandelier should never experience. 

After hearing me complain about my chandelier for the hundredth time, a friend of mine told me that I should just make it into a hanging light that can be plugged into an electrical socket. Can I just say that this was a divine moment for me? And a genius one for my friend? 

Here is my bubble chandelier/hanging light:

Excuse the dirt on my camera lens.
I still want to install it the proper way, but the fear of electrocution runs deep in me.

At least I can use my bubble chandelier now. And every time I turn it on, I say to myself, "Let there be light!"