Chocolate, Walnut & Ricotta Bread Pudding

Chocolate, Walnut & Ricotta Bread Pudding
This dish was inspired by Costeaux Bakery in Healdsburg, CA. Owner, Karl Seppi, told me he made a similiar dish and sent me home with a loaf of his Cinnamon-Walnut Bread. Thanks Karl, http://www.costeaux.com/

Preheat oven to 350° F.
Grease one large baking dish. In a large bowl beat the eggs. Mix in the brown sugar and ricotta cheese. Add the milk and vanilla and mix until combined. You will have some small chunks of ricotta. This is a good thing! Stir in the melted butter.

Cut the bread into 1-1/2 inch cubes. Add the bread cubes to the milk and egg mixture and stir until all pieces of bread are completely covered. Add the chocolate and mix it in so it is distributed throughout the dish. Pour into the baking dish. Let sit for a minimum of 1 hour or cover and let sit overnight. 

Bake uncovered at 350° F for 45-50 minutes until top is evenly browned. Remove from oven and let rest 15-20 minutes before serving. Top with caramel and/or ice cream and serve.
Makes 16 servings