Toast brioche in preheated oven until lightly brown, about 8 minutes. Set aside.
In saucepan, bring milk, cream and 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar to a boil. Then immediately
turn off heat.
In a bowl, mix egg yolks and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons sugar and whip until
In a large bowl, mix cocoa powder and hot water to a smooth paste. To this mixture
add half of the hot milk-cream mixture, the chopped chocolate and a pinch of salt
and mix until smooth.
Slowly add the other half of the milk-cream mixture to the egg/sugar mixture,
whipping quickly to temper yolks. Add this mixture to the chocolate mixture. Add
Frangelico and mix together.
Add reserved bread cubes to chocolate mixture and mix lightly with a spatula.
Do not break up cubes, just let soak in mixture at least 15 to 20 minutes.
To make garnish: In a nonstick sauté pan over medium heat, add butter. When butter
is melted, add brown sugar and mix together.
Add hazelnuts and remaining 1/2 teaspoon
salt and mix together. Cook about 1/2 minute - do not burn.
Place nut mixture on plate to cool.
Heat oven to 325 degrees F.
Use four oven-proof custard or creme brûlée dishes (about 5 to 5 1/2 inches wide
and 1 inch high). Using a slotted spoon, divide soaked bread cubes among the four
dishes - make sure the bread cubes aren't stacked.
Divide remaining custard around and over the bread cubes.
Place dishes in a towel-lined roasting pan or baking
dish and pour in very hot water halfway up the sides of the custard dishes to create
a water bath.
Coarsely break up cooled hazelnut garnish and divide over tops of bread puddings.
Place in preheated oven and bake 25 to 30 minutes until bread pudding is just set
in the middle. Turn roasting pan halfway around during baking so the desserts cook
Remove from water bath, and serve warm with your choice of lightly sweetened
whipped cream or ice cream.
Makes 4 servings.
* If brioche is not available, any good-quality egg bread or challah could
** To toast hazelnuts, put on cookie sheet and set in preheated 350 degree F oven.
Toast until light golden, 8 to 10 minutes. Remove from oven and coarsely chop into
about 1/4-inch pieces.