My husband loves to smoke meats and anything he can try at least once. Like the bread for this dessert recipe he found on one of his favorite sites, Barbecue Bible.
1 loaf (1 pound) brioche, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8 cups)
3 cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 cups whole milk
1½ cups sugar
Pinch of salt
1 vanilla bean (optional—for an even smokier flavor, use a smoked vanilla bean)
8 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
4 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (1½ teaspoons if not using the vanilla bean)
Butter, for buttering the skillet
Set up your smoker following the manufacturer’s instructions and preheat to 225° to 250°F. Add the wood as specified by the manufacturer.
Arrange the brioche cubes in a single layer in an aluminum foil pan and place in the smoker. Smoke, stirring occasionally so the cubes smoke evenly, until firm and toasted, 30 to 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the custard: Place the cream, milk, sugar, and salt in a heavy saucepan. Cut the vanilla bean, if using, in half lengthwise, and scrape the tiny black seeds into the cream. Then, add the vanilla bean halves. Bring to a boil over medium heat, whisking until the sugar dissolves. Remove the pan from the heat. Remove the vanilla bean halves; you can rinse, dry, and reuse them. Whisk in half of the chocolate until melted. (Return the pan to low heat if the chocolate needs help melting.)
Place the eggs, egg yolks, and vanilla extract, if using, in a large heatproof bowl and whisk until smooth. Gradually whisk in the hot cream mixture. Add it little by little so as not to curdle the eggs. Add the smoked bread cubes and fold until the bread has absorbed most of the custard.
Butter the skillet and spoon in the pudding mixture. Sprinkle with the remaining chopped chocolate, pushing the pieces into the bread pudding with a fork.
Increase the heat of your smoker to 325°F. Some smokers won’t go that high; if not, increase the heat to 275°F. Smoke the bread pudding until puffed and browned on top and the custard is set, 40 to 60 minutes at the higher temperature, 1 to 1½ hours at the lower temperature. (Insert a metal skewer into the center of the pudding—it should come out clean when the custard is set.)