Did I mention bourbon? I have been wanting to make some bread pudding, other than the chocolate that I’ve made for years (but seriously so delicious), so I picked up a loaf of brioche while at the market the other day. I scoured the internet for some recipes, but as usual, none of them really jumped at me. So what to do, what to do… pick the best parts of several and make the perfect RHOS bread pudding. Just in case you didn’t get it from the name, there is bourbon in this recipe so not a child friendly recipe. What I’ve realized with bread pudding recipes, they are all pretty much the same building block, it’s what you add to them that make them unique. All of then have the bread, milk, cream, eggs, but then people get all creative and start adding the real flavor. One thing you will NEVER find in any bread pudding I make is raisins. I HATE raisins that have been cooked.
If you don’t have bourbon (and I can’t imagine a home without it…) you can use cognac. I know, you are probably rolling your eyes thinking, “if I didn’t have bourbon you really think I have cognac”. I get that…just saying. And to be honest, you could easily make this without the bourbon and have a nice bread pudding. I just really like that extra kick of flavor the bourbon adds.
For the Recipe:
1 loaf of brioche (about 16 oz.)
1 1/2 c. pecans, toasted and chopped
1 c. heavy cream
4 c. half-n-half (if you don’t have this you could substitute whole milk, but not non-fat)
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
3/4 c. brown sugar
1 tbsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. bourbon
butter for the baking dish
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Scant 1 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/2 c. heavy cream
1/2 tsp. salt
3 tbsp. bourbon
Use the butter to grease a 9×12 baking dish. Cut the brioche into cubes and add to the baking dish. Sprinkle the pecans over the bread, making sure you do it evenly. In a large mixing bowl, add the eggs and give them a good mix. Add the rest of the ingredients and mix well. Pour this mixture over the bread cubes and nuts, let sit until the bread is completely soaked in the creamy mixture, about 45-60 min.
Preheat oven to 350 F. You will bake the bread pudding in a water bath (bain marie) for about 50 minutes, the top should be nicely browned, the rest might seem a tad moist, not runny though, you want that. Take extreme caution when removing from the oven, the water it was baking in is HOT!!! It will set up when it cools. If you cook it until it no longer looks moist you will end up with dry bread pudding. Let cool for 20 minutes. I serve the bourbon caramel sauce (directions for making are below) on the side along with some fresh whipped cream.
To Make the Bourbon Caramel Sauce:
In a saucepan, add the sugar and water, cook over med-high heat. The sugar will melt then begin to bubble. Let cook until the mixture turns a deep amber color, about ten minutes. This is not the time to walk away or get distracted, this will go from a nice amber to burnt in mere moments…. Take off the heat and stir in the cream, it will bubble up on you so don’t freak, it’s totally normal. Add the salt and bourbon. Let’s remember that bourbon is VERY flammable, so take caution around an open flame. The caramel will seem a little runnier than a normal caramel sauce, totally ok, it will thicken once cooled. FYI, you might want to make two batches….
NOTE: You can reduce the bourbon for a less punch of alcohol. I like the flavor so the more the merrier…