Thursday, March 12, 2009
Three years ago, I opened the wardrobe door and entered the magical world of bread pudding thanks to one of my favorite restaurants Bennett's Pure Food Bistro. Since then, I've tried the dessert at multiple food venues, desperately trying to duplicate the magic at home. Most of the time restaurant versions disappoint because they are not made to order and are therefore reheated unsuccessfully (yes, that means cold in the middle, yuck!).
My best girl Kasey gave me her secret family recipe in exchange for my firstborn, but for some reason I can never get it to set right (I'm sure it's user error!). Anyhow, we decided she had enough girls already, so I got my daughter back.
I've given all of the celebrity chefs' recipes a whirl (well, maybe not all of them) and recipes range from cinnamon and raisins to chocolate to nuts. Most unsuccessful are when I just wing it...hmmm, maybe it is something to do with baking and custard chemistry...
But I stuck with it. And over the years I've gotten closer and closer to perfection. And then, this morning, I had a breakthrough producing the big prize. In all my recipe searches, one special ingredient caught my eye...croissants. Yeah, you know it's going to be good.
This morning on the way home from my preschool drop off, the baby and I stepped into The French Bakery, a fairly new shop in Kirkland. Fresh off the racks were some beautiful, impossibly flaky croissants. Crisp on the outside, soft and chewy on the inside.
One of the recipes I stumbled upon along the way used Bourbon to flavor the pudding. Seeing as how I never stock Bourbon, I got to thinking.....vanilla extract is delicious AND uses Bourbon for the solution. Perfect.
And instead of chocolate which is my normal dessert default...caramel. Smooth, sweet, and a little bit salty to drizzle over the top.
A word of warning...the following recipe is not allowable in any sort of diet where you're trying to actually reduce your waistline. But....iz soooo good.
Julie Jams Bread Pudding
First, make the caramel sauce so it has time to thicken up. And on a side note, if you've never noticed a difference between butters, you HAVE to try Kerrygold Irish butter. I swear it stands heads and shoulders above my regular butter. And, yes, I tried it plain as in a little bite on a spoon or, you know, two.
2 TB butter (Kerrygold!!)
1 1/2 TB brown sugar
1 1/2 TB white sugar
2 tsp water
1/4 tsp Kosher salt
2 TB heavy cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
Whisk together the butter, sugars, water, and salt in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Add the cream and vanilla, boiling 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Let it sit and thicken for about an hour (or less)
For the pudding, tear up and place in a 1 QT casserole dish:
2 croissants (not too tiny of pieces)
In a saucepan, combine:
1/2 c sugar
2 TB water
Whisk together and then heat over MH until it is bubbly and ideally amber in color (although, my past experience with sugar crystallizing makes me a little chicken to take it all the way). After about 5 minutes of all that, remove from the heat and stir in:
1/2 c heavy cream
1 TB vanilla (or Bourbon if you like)
1/4 - 1/2 tsp cinnamon
2 eggs, beaten
Pour all of this over your croissants, then let it sit for about 10 minutes. Bake in an oven preheated to 350 degrees for about 20 minutes.
Leave it alone on the counter for a little while, maybe 15 minutes so it can really set up. Then carve out 4 pieces (or eat it out of the dish...), drizzle with the caramel and, look out, or someone will see you licking out the dish!
(To reheat leftovers..haha...heat the oven to 300 and warm for 8-10 minutes or until you can't stand it any longer).