Good Sunday, 24/680new.com followers:
Well, it was a sadly quiet in New Orleans this week without the usual Mardi Gras parades and festivities. Epicurean Exchange Culinary Travel was there at this time last year (just before lockdown), and missed our annual visit this year, which would have been our 7th! So, to celebrate, and look forward to 2022, I served our Epicurean-MEAL-Exchange dining guests a complete southern meal including Chicken and Andouille Sausage Gumbo, Red Beans and Rice, Braised Collard Greens and this show-stopping bread pudding!
Not surprisingly, I was inundated with texts by those who enjoyed the meal exclaiming “Oh, and that dessert!” And “…that bread pudding was out-of-this-world!” And, of course, asking me to share the recipe. Not to disappoint, I made a final batch today, documenting the process; including step-by-step instructions and photos, and a video of the final presentation!
If you have been to New Orleans, you know that locals celebrate one festival or another every few days it seems, and there is always room for another cocktail or party. So, until we visit next year, I invite you to prepare this stellar dessert – for a little taste of New Orleans – and…
Laissez le bon temps rouler!
– Chef Charlie
Pecan-Brown Sugar Bread Pudding with Bourbon-Butter Sauce
For the Bread Pudding:
1 – 1# loaf plain challah bread
6 whole eggs
1 cup granulated sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups half and half
1/4 cup bourbon whiskey (optional)
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
10 ounces butter, softened and divided
1 cup packed dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups toasted, coarsely chopped pecans
For the Bourbon-Butter Sauce:
4 ounces butter
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 tablespoons heavy cream
2 tablespoons bourbon whiskey, or more to taste
Equipment: 9” x 12” baking dish
• Pre-heat oven to 375˚F
• Cut the bread into 1 1/2-inch cubes. Arrange the bread cubes in a single layer on a baking sheet. Place the bread cubes in the oven and toast for 15 to 18 minutes; tossing once during the time to toast all sides. Remove from the oven, and allow to cool completely.
• Meanwhile, place the eggs and sugar in a large bowl and whisk until blended. Add the milk, half and half, whiskey (if using), and vanilla, and whisk until well-blended. Place the toasted bread cubes in a large bowl; pour the custard over the cubes, and turn to coat. Gently press the cubes down to immerse them in the custard, and let soak for 15 minutes, turning once or twice.
• Place 6 ounces of the softened butter in a small bowl. Add the brown sugar and use a fork to cream the butter and sugar together. Set aside. Prepare the baking dish by coating with 2 ounces of the butter.
• Cover the bottom of the baking dish with 1/2 of the bread/custard mixture. Spread the butter/brown sugar mixture evenly over the bread cubes. Sprinkle the butter/sugar layer with 1 cup of the chopped pecans. Top with the remaining bread and custard mixture. Use a spoon to even out the bread and custard. Sprinkle with the remaining 1/2 cup of pecans and dot the top with the remaining 2 ounces of butter.
• Place in the oven on the middle rack, and bake for 50 to 60 minutes or until the custard is set in the center, the sugar is bubbling on the edges and the top is golden brown.
• As the pudding bakes, make the sauce: In a small saucepan, combine the butter, sugar, cream and whiskey. Place over medium heat and whisk together until combined and thickened. Taste, and add a bit more bourbon if you like!
• Serve bread pudding warm, smothered in sauce!
Serves 10 – 12
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