Posts Tagged 'Bread Pudding'

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce

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

Powdered sugar

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

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
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

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White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

Happy New Year, all!  Our gathering last night was admittedly low-key (funny how one’s desire to interact with drunken throngs of people decreases with age), but we still know how to celebrate.  After cocktails aplenty and a fabulous roast chicken, we enjoyed an amazing dessert: White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce from the November 2003 issue of Bon Appetit.  I’ve written about my love of bread pudding several times before; I’ll choose it over almost any other dessert whenever it’s available.  I have my favorites (Redoak Boutique Beer Cafe’s Sticky Date and Organic Hefeweizen Pudding and Upstream Brewing Company’s Caramel Bread Pudding) and my disappointments (Trinity Hall’s Bread Pudding – don’t bother!), but I’ve only actually made bread pudding once before.  The results were good last time, but the results last night were phenomenal.

Making the bread pudding was super easy.  First, I made the sauce.  In a heavy medium saucepan over medium-high heat, I brought 2 cups of whipping cream, 6 tablespoons of Bailey’s, 1/4 cup of sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract to a boil, stirring often.  I mixed 2 teaspoons of cornstarch and 2 teaspoons of water together in a small bowl and whisked it into the cream mixture.  I boiled the mixture until the sauce thickened, whisking constantly.  (The recipe said this would take about 3 minutes, but I needed 4, probably because things boil at a lower temperature up here.)  Once the sauce had thickened, I removed it from the heat and let it cool.  After about 30 minutes, I poured it through a sieve to remove the skin (optional and not in the original recipe), transferred it to an airtight container, and chilled it in the refrigerator for 2 hours.  (The sauce can be made up to 3 days ahead.)

When the sauce was adequately chilled and I was ready to finish the bread pudding, I cut 12 ounces of French bread into 3/4-inch cubes.  (Important: The recipe says 14 cups of bread, or about 12 ounces.  My 12 ounces was more like 11 or 12 cups, and I felt like the bread-to-custard ratio was perfect.  Some of the recipe reviewers complained that the pudding was too dry; my guess is that they went with the full 14 cups of bread.  Try to measure your bread by weight if possible.)  I also chopped 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate and 6 ounces of white chocolate.  (Keep in mind that the chocolate chunks will translate into chocolate bites in the bread pudding.  Chop the chocolate finely if you want smaller bites of chocolate; use a coarse chop for bigger chocolate bites.)  I put the bread cubes and the chopped chocolate in a large bowl and tossed to combine.

Using an electric mixer, I beat together 4 large eggs, 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons of sugar, and 2 teaspoons of vanilla in a separate large bowl.  Gradually, I beat in 1 1/2 cups of whipping cream (more cream – can you believe it?) and 1/2 cup of whole milk.  I added the cream mixture to the bread mixture, stirring everything together to combine, and let it stand for 30 minutes.  (I tossed it gently and occasionally during the 30 minutes although the recipe didn’t say that was necessary.)

Once the 30 minutes had passed, I buttered a 13 x 9 x 2-inch glass baking dish (I chose butter over cooking spray) and transferred the bread mixture to the dish, spreading it evenly.  I drizzled the mixture with another 1/2 cup of whipping cream (!) and sprinkled it with 2 tablespoons of sugar.  I baked the pudding at 350F for 1 hour and cooled it for about 20 minutes before serving (drizzled with the sauce, of course!).

White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

If you like bread pudding, Bailey’s, and chocolate, it truly doesn’t get any better than this.  The bread pudding was perfectly moist yet it wasn’t overly dense or heavy, and the crackly top from the cream and sugar sprinkle was amazing.  The pudding tastes fantastic on its own, but adding the sauce makes the dish a complete knockout.  It stands up to the very best bread puddings I’ve tried, restaurant or homemade.  It’s far from noncaloric (4 cups of cream – yikes!), but if you’re going to indulge, this is a great way to do it.  I’ll be making this one again for book club on Thursday, and I have to say I cannot wait.  (Thanks for passing on a terrific recipe, Hilary!)

TIPS:  When you make the sauce, use a saucepan with relatively high sides.  Mine boiled up considerably after I added the cornstarch and water, and I just barely managed to keep it in check.

Also, I was worried about using French bread in this recipe because I usually like bread puddings made with brioche or challah, but the French bread soaked up the egg mixture beautifully.  I did buy French bread that came in a closed plastic bag instead of an open paper bag, so maybe this made a difference.

Recipe link: White and Dark Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Cream Sauce

Banana-Raisin Bread Pudding

If I am a connoisseur of anything, bread pudding is it. If I’m out to eat and it’s on the menu, I order it. Always. I actually ruined the prospect of frozen custard after dinner for a friend recently when I said, “Stopping at Scoopy’s is fine, unless there’s bread pudding on the menu.” And there it was. It was absolutely fantastic, so I’d like to think I did him a favor. 🙂

My long-standing favorite is the Caramel Bread Pudding at Upstream Brewing Company in my hometown of Omaha, NE. It’s extremely dense, and it comes with bourbon cream sauce and whipped cream. Mmmm.

I only very recently decided to try making bread pudding myself. The one recipe I had tried before last night was the Chocolate Bread Pudding recipe from the October 2005 issue of Everyday Food. It had really great flavor, but it came out kind of wet on two separate attempts. The recipe I tried last night – Banana-Raisin Bread Pudding from the October 2007 issue of Everyday Food – didn’t have this problem. Maybe challah (or brioche) just absorbs the liquid ingredients better.

The steps were pretty simple. I whisked together some eggs, vanilla, salt, sugar, and milk in a large bowl and then added the challah, bananas, and raisins. After letting that sit for 10 minutes, it all went into a buttered 2-quart baking dish and got a sprinkle of sugar. After an hour in the oven at 350 F, I had a golden, moist (but not wet!) bread pudding.

banana_raisin_bread_pudding.jpg

This recipe has a semi-strong vanilla flavor (a positive in my book) and really nice density. I will definitely make it again. Bourbon cream sauce would make it even better… Maybe next time!

TIPS: The recipe says you’ll end up with 6 servings. The writers neglect to mention that those servings are about as big as a CD case. I cut this into 12 pieces, and I think that’s just about right. Also, I would recommend pushing down on your bread a bit once it’s in the baking dish but before it hits the oven. I think that contributes to good density and helps the pudding cook evenly.

Recipe link: Banana-Raisin Bread Pudding

p.s. This is a dessert-only post because we met friends for dinner last night at Fireside Pies here in Dallas. We tried two pizzas – the Peta Pie and the Balsamic Roasted Chicken Pie – and both were just amazing. I can’t wait to go back!




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