Bread puddings seem a little heavy for summer, but that is when cherries are in season here, and I like the flavor the fresh cherries bring to this dish. And really, other baked fruit desserts abound in summer menus, so why not a bread pudding? This is really easy to put together, and the cherry/chocolate connection is so delicious. This will benefit from sitting for an hour or so before baking, if you have the time.

4 large eggs
4 large egg whites, or use 2 more eggs
1 c milk
1/2 c sugar
1 T vanilla extract or almond extract
1 t ground cinnamon
4 c bread cubes, whole grain preferred
2 – 2 1/2 c pitted, sweet cherries
1 c semisweet or bittersweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate
1/2 c chopped nuts, such as pecans, walnuts, or almonds

1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Grease a 2 quart or similar-sized baking dish. Set aside.

2. Whisk eggs, egg whites, and milk in a bowl until well combined. Add sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon and whisk until incorporated.

3. In another, large bowl, combine bread cubes, cherries, chocolate chips, and half the chopped nuts. Stir in the egg mixture and toss to coat well. Transfer to prepared baking dish. Press down on the bread cubes. Cover with foil and either allow to sit for an hour or so in the refrigerator, or put into preheated oven and bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until the custard has set.

4. Remove from oven, uncover and top with remaining nuts. Continue baking, uncovered, another 15 to 20 minutes until the pudding is puffed and golden on top.

5. Allow to  cool for 10 – 15 minutes before serving.