Living in a house in the ‘burbs has its pros and cons, but a weeknight Halloween is definitely one of the pros. After years in apartments with nary a trick-or-treater, I have to admit that I just love seeing all the kids’ costumes when Dr. O and I hand out candy. And since it’s a Monday (and we enjoyed an adult party on Saturday night), it’s a perfect night to kick back with a nice meal and a bottle of wine, popping up whenever the doorbell rings.
I wanted to make a special dessert for tonight that fit with the holiday, but I was short on time and didn’t feel like running to the store. Thankfully, I had all the ingredients on hand to make something wonderful: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce. As I’ve mentioned before, bread pudding is one of my very favorite desserts when it’s done right; this one, while different from most others I’ve made or tasted, certainly is.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Officially makes 6 servings, but I’d say it’s more like 8 or 10
Bread pudding ingredients:
2 cups half-and-half
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 cups 1 1/2-inch cubes egg bread (I used leftover kaiser rolls)
1/2 cup golden raisins (I used dried cranberries since that’s what I had in the pantry)
Caramel sauce ingredients:
1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter (I cut it into small pieces for easier melting)
1/2 cup whipping cream
For bread pudding:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk half-and-half, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes. Stir in golden raisins. Transfer mixture to 11-x-7 glass baking dish. (I used a 1.5-quart oval dish, and I buttered it.) Let stand 15 minutes. Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes. (I needed 50 minutes, but that might have something to do with high altitude.)
Meanwhile, prepare caramel sauce:
Whisk brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes.
Sift powdered sugar over bread pudding. Serve warm with caramel sauce.
Source: Bon Appetit, November 2000
Oh, deliciousness! The bread pudding itself came out very moist – almost creamy – with mild flavors of pumpkin and spice. The cranberries added the occasional sweet-tart bite, which I really enjoyed. With over a cup of brown sugar, you’d expect the bread pudding to be sweet, but it really isn’t. This is a good thing, because the caramel sauce is. When the sauce and the bread pudding are separate, each is good; together, though, they’re pretty fantastic.
I appreciate that this was incredibly easy to throw together and the caramel sauce seems practically impossible to screw up. (It might become my new go-to easy dessert sauce, actually; the consistency is really silky and it has a perfect viscosity once it’s cooled for 20 minutes or so.) This one isn’t amazing enough to knock my very favorite bread pudding recipe off the top spot, but it will be a wonderful seasonal dessert for tonight.
Recipe link: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce