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In England, it's trifle; elsewhere, it's charlotte, bread pudding, tiramisu. Every country's cuisine has them--nursery sweets constructed from leftover bread or cake, and eggs, milk, and sugar. The bread pudding at new Toscana combines two great comfort foods into one great dessert. The restaurant's dessert borrows something from bread pudding, something from tiramisu. It's a toy-sized log cabin built of miniature bread slices, the outside browned and crusty, the inside soft as pudding. It's served warm so the chocolate bits melt to bits of brown goo and the barely sugared mascarpone served with it melts slowly into the creme Anglaise, making this a baby-sweet, comforting concoction, as soothing as sucking a thumb:Better take your coffee black to remind yourself you're a grown-up.

--Mary Brown Malouf

Toscana, 4900 McKinney Ave. at Monticello, 521-2244.

 
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