1 (1-pound) loaf New Orleans-style French bread, cut into 1-inch pieces
4 cups whole milk
1 cup sugar
4 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Pinch ground nutmeg
2 (4-ounce) bars bittersweet chocolate, chopped
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted Buttery Rum Sauce (recipe follows)
Preheat oven to 350°. Spray a 13x9-inch baking dish with cooking spray.
On 2 large rimmed baking sheets, place bread. Bake until dry, 10 to 12 minutes. Let stand until cool.
In a large bowl, whisk together milk, sugar, eggs, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Add bread, and toss to combine. Pour bread mixture into prepared baking dish. Using a spatula, gently press bread to cover with milk mixture. Cover and refrigerate for at least 8 hours or overnight.
Preheat oven to 350°
Remove bread pudding from refrigerator, and let stand for 30 minutes.
Uncover and sprinkle with chocolate. Bake until puffed and golden brown and a knife inserted near center comes out clean, 55 to 60 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped pecans. Serve warm with Buttery Rum Sauce.