Saturday, February 27, 2010

Real Comfort Food: Bread Pudding

One of the great things about spending alot of time in New Orleans is that it made me a huge bread pudding aficionado. This is one of the easiest desserts that I make. You can mix a number of ingredients into a basic bread pudding recipe and also change up the toppings.

I have enjoyed bread pudding so many different ways and have loved them all. To me, bread pudding is the ultimate comfort food...and it is also so inexpensive to make.

Here is a great basic recipe that I got while attending cooking school when I was in New Orleans.

I occasionally bake the bread pudding in a large muffin tin and top it with fresh fruit and powdered sugar. These make great individual servings and are lower in calories than served with some of the sauces.

Bread Pudding

• 3 large eggs

• ¾ cup plus 2 teaspoons sugar, divided

• 2 cups half-and-half

• 1 cup heavy cream

• 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla extract

• ½ teaspoons cinnamon

• ¼ teaspoons grated nutmeg

• 16 slices day-old French bread, sliced ½ inch thick (or other day-old bread)

• ½ cup raisins - optional

1. Grease a shallow 2-quart baking dish.

2. Whisk together the eggs, ¾ cup of sugar, half-and-half, cream, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg.

3. If you are using raisins - Arrange half of the bread in the prepared dish and evenly scatter half the raisins across the bread. Put the remainder of the bread and raisins on top of this.

4. Pour the egg mixture evenly over the bread.

5. Preheat the oven to 325° F.

6. After 15 minutes of soaking, bake the pudding in the oven for 20 minutes.

7. Remove from the oven, sprinkle the remaining 2 teaspoons of sugar over the top and bake again for 35 to 40 minutes.

Whiskey Sauce

• 2/3 cup sugar

• ¼ cup water

• ¼ cup (half stick) unsalted butter

• 1 large egg

• ¼ cup whiskey

1. In a saucepan, combine the sugar, water and butter. Cook over medium heat until all the sugar is dissolved and small bubbles form around the edges.

2. In a separate bowl, lightly beat the egg. Whisk in ¼ cup of the hot sugar mixture (this will temper the egg so it won’t scramble when added to the hot mixture).

3. Pour the egg mixture into the saucepan.

4. Cook over low heat, stirring, for 2 minutes until it thickens and steam begins to rise.

5. Remove from heat and stir in the whiskey.

Bon Appetit!