|8 slices||white sandwich bread slightly stale or very lightly toasted|
|1 - 1/2 cups||caramel sauce purchased (or home made)|
|1/4 teaspoon||fine sea salt plus 1/8 teaspoon|
|2 cups||half and half|
|1/2 cup||whole milk|
|2 tablespoons||granulated sugar|
|6 ounces||SCHARFFEN BERGER 62% Cacao Semisweet Chocolate Chunks|
|2 tablespoons||melted butter|
1. Butter the custard cups.
2. Stir the rounded 1/4 teaspoons of salt into the caramel sauce.
3. Spread a generous tablespoon on one side of each bread slice.
4. Divide the remaining caramel sauce among the ramekins using a generous tablespoon for each.
5. Cut one slice of bread in half the long way, then crosswise in thirds to make 6 pieces.
6. Cut the bananas at a slight angle in 1/4” slices.
7. Fill one ramekin: stack four of the bread pieces with a slice of banana between them. Turn the stack on edge and place it in bottom of the ramekin. Place one of the last two pieces of bread with a banana slice on each side of the stack. Repeat to fill the remaining ramekins. Distribute the chocolate among the ramekins (using about 20 chunks for each) on top and tucked between the bread slices.
8. In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, 1 tablespoon of sugar, 1/8 teaspoon salt, and vanilla.
9. Whisk in the half and half and milk. Pour the egg mixture into the ramekins.
10. Let set for 20 to 30 minutes to saturate the bread completely. Top off the cups with the remaining egg mixture.
11. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F, and put a kettle of water on to boil.
12. Brush the exposed top edges of the bread with melted butter. Sprinkle with a generous 1/4 teaspoon of sugar per pudding.
13. Wipe any smudges off the ramekins and set them in the baking pan. Set the pan in the oven. Pour boiling water in the pan to reach half way up the sides of the ramekins. Bake until the edges of the bread are golden brown, and a knife inserted into the puddings comes out wet but mostly clear rather than milky, 20 to 30 minutes.
14. Let cool for 10 minutes in the water bath. If not serving within two hours, cover the puddings and refrigerate them. Cold puddings can be reheated in the microwave.
15. Serve the puddings in their cups, warm (wonderful!) or at room temperature or cold. Or, un-mold them as follows: slide a slim knife around the inside of a cup to detach the pudding. Tip the cup on a dessert dish and slide the pudding out, letting the sauce flow around it. Adjust the pudding to sit upright and scrape extra sauce from the cup around it or drizzle a bit on top.