I like this recipe a lot. With a minimum of sugar , no chocolate, and a slight reworking of the spices, it could work as a savory side dish for a Middle-Eastern or Asian meal. I found the chocolate to be too overpowering in this dish, and would cut it down or eliminate it altogether (and I’m a chocoholic). Sprinkling brown sugar over the pudding before baking gives it a crispy topping.

1 can coconut milk (14 oz)
2 c cooked, mashed pie pumpkin or other winter squash
1/2 c maple syrup or brown sugar
1/2 t salt
1 1/2 t cinnamon
1 t fresh grated nutmeg or 1 1/2 t store-bought grated nutmeg
1/2 t ground ginger
1/2 t ground cloves
10 c (more or less) cubed stale or lightly toasted whole grain bread
3/4 c semisweet  or bittersweet chocolate chips, optional
2 T brown sugar, for the topping, optional

1. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Grease a 9-x-13-x-2-inch baking dish.

2. In a blender or food processor, combine the  coconut milk, pumpkin, maple syrup, salt, and spices until smooth. Transfer to a large bowl, toss in the bread cubes and stir to combine, making sure all bread cubes are coated with the coconut milk mixture. Add the chocolate chips, if using, and stir to combine. If possible, let the mixture sit for a half hour or so to allow the bread to absorb the liquid and to allow the flavors to mingle. If doing so, don’t preheat the oven until ready to bake.

3. Fill the prepared baking dish with the mixture and lightly press it down with the back of a spoon. Evenly sprinkle about 2 tablespoons brown sugar over the top of the bread pudding.

4. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes, until top is lightly browned. Let the pudding cool for a few minutes before serving. It’s best served warm, so if you’ve made it earlier in the day, reheat gently in the oven.