Monday, November 26, 2007

pumpkin bread pudding with praline sauce

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce

I had grand plans for posting all sorts of Thanksgiving recipes, honest. In fact, I started picking them out in September. Sweet potato puree, port wine-basted turkey, brussel sprouts braised in sage butter. Yes, I was going to serve a grand feast this year. But alas, it was not to be. Mom and Dad are in the middle of a remodeling project of epic proportions. Someday soon there will be a glorious new kitchen just for me for everyone to enjoy. Just not quite yet.

The remodeling project is running a little behind, so in the absence of appliances, a sink, and, well, a floor, we celebrated Thanksgiving at my uncle's house. While I was disappointed that I didn't get to prepare a full meal, the part I did get to do -- the dessert -- turned out to be even more fun than I anticipated. As evidenced by the photo at left, I may not be the only cooking aficionado in the family. Two-thirds of my blonde-haired trio of cousins couldn't get enough of of the pumpkin bread pudding assembly process.

I want to mix!
No problem.
My turn to stir!
Have at it.
What's this?
What are those?
Booze soaked rais--no, don't drink that!

OK, they didn't try to drink the bourbon, but they were very enthusiastic helpers. And while they did all the pouring, whisking, and more whisking, I took the liberty of indulging in a little fantasy about running my own restaurant...assisted by two tiny sous chefs who eagerly await my instructions and applaud the finished products with utter glee. Mmm...happy Thanksgiving, indeed.

I tried something a little different with this recipe. Instead of cutting the bread into the traditional 1-inch cubes, I layered whole slices in an oven-safe bowl. It did make for a prettier presentation like I had hoped, but next time I might throw in a bit more batter so there is a higher gooey bread to crispy bread ratio. Nonetheless, the bread pudding, and especially the praline sauce, were very well received. TSA: 0 Me: 1

Note: The recipe below is for cubed bread in an 8" x 8" dish. If you try my method, you'll need a 2-quart capacity bowl. (Though I actually doubled the whole recipe and used a 4-quart bowl.)

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Bourbon-Soaked Raisins & Praline Sauce
Serves 6

Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Adapted from Gourmet, October 2007

1 1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons bourbon
3/4 cup canned solid-pack pumpkin
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
2 large eggs plus 1 yolk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
Pinch of ground cloves
5 cups cubed (1-inch) day-old baguette or crusty bread*
3/4 stick unsalted butter, melted
1/4 cup bourbon-soaked raisins**

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Whisk together the pumpkin, milk, bourbon, sugar, eggs, yolk, salt, and spices in a bowl.

Toss bread cubes with butter in another bowl, then add pumpkin mixture and raisins and toss to coat. Transfer to an ungreased 8-inch square baking dish and bake until custard is set, 25-30 minutes. Serve warm topped with praline sauce and homemade whipped cream.

* I used fact, I flew 2,500 miles with two loaves of it because they sure as heck don't sell it at the local Super Wal-Mart.

** This is easy-peasy. Put your raisins in a small saucepan and add enough bourbon to cover the bottom of the pan. Bring the bourbon to a boil and then turn off the heat and cover the pan. Let the raisins soak in the covered pan until they absorb up most or all of the bourbon, about 30 minutes.

Praline Sauce
Adapted from
1/4 cup butter
1 1/4 cups packed brown sugar
16 large marshmallows
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1 dash salt
1 cup evaporated milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Melt butter in a saucepan over low heat. Stir in brown sugar, marshmallows, corn syrup, and salt. Bring to a boil over low heat, stirring constantly. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Stir in evaporated milk and vanilla and mix well.

Unused sauce can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for a couple of days (maybe longer, but you'll eat it all before then anyway).

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Praline Sauce 4

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