It's found in various world cusines and in seemingly every restaurant throughout the South. In its simplest form, it's stale bread softed with milk, bound with egg, spiced with mace or cinnamon, and sweetened with rum- or caramel-based sauce.
We discovered a chocolate-rich incarnation at Fabaian's Italian Bistro the other night. Resistance was futile.
Chef Tom Patterson combines Acme-brand challah (egg bread), heavy cream, eggs, sugar and cinnamon and bakes the base for 40 minutes at 450 degrees. Then he whips up cocolate sauce from Guittard chocolate - the brand used for See's candies - adds Guittard chocolate chips to it and pours it over the pudding. It's served warm with orange gelato from the Italian Ice Cream Co. in Folsom.
Get it while it lasts ($6.95) at 1755 Fair Oaks Blvd., Fair Oaks; (916) 536-9891, www.fabiansitalianbistro.