Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding

My dear friend Danielle, who lives in Arizona now, has this big family who all like each other (I know, unheard of), and for Thanksgiving they are having a dessert contest. She asked me for some recipes and I just couldn’t send her out there with a pumpkin pie. I love bread and I love custard which always leads me to bread pudding. Guilty. I love the stuff. So why not pumpkin  bread pudding? For the tasting at Silverlake Wine I got all fancy because one has to when competing with guinea hens and artichoke pasta, but because I know Danielle works and has two kids and a husband, I wanted to simplify things. All the flavor components are still there, it’s just not going to take you two days to make.

1 Loaf Pumpkin Brioche or Challah or any sweet, rich bread.
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
1 vanilla bean, split and scraped
2 cinamon sticks, toasted
15 cardomon pods, toasted
3 star anise, toasted
3 cloves, toasted
1 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
2 teaspoons pink peppercorns
1” piece fresh ginger, peeled and sliced
6 egg yolks
1 egg
2/3 c brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons Blackstrap Molasses
3 Tablespoons Brandy
Butter Pecan Ice Cream
Chocolate Sauce
12 Ramekins
Turbinado Sugar
Preheat oven to 275F
Make an ice bath.
In a medium saucepan, bring the milk, cream, vanilla, and all spices to a simmer over medium heat. Then remove from heat, cover and let marinate for one hour.
Meanwhile cut up Brioche or Challah into ½” cubes, place on a sheet pan, and toast until crisp, about 15 minutes.
Set out ramekins on a sheet tray and generously rub them with butter. Then sprinkle the bottom with turbinado sugar or even brown sugar. This will make a glaze when it is cooked.
Fill each ramekin with the toast cubes and increase oven temperature to 325F
Whisk eggs and sugar and molasses together. Reheat custard to just before a simmer, then slowly drizzle a cup of the warm milk into the eggs while whisking. This warms the eggs and prevents them from scrambling when you pour all of them into the remaining warm milk which you should do now while stiring with a rubber spatula.
Continue to stir. Milk mixture will thicken. Check the rubber spatula by running your finger across it. If the milk slips down quickly, continue to stir, but check every 30 seconds or so to see if the milk stays put without slipping immediately. Remove from heat. Strain. Place in the ice bath.
Once cool, add brandy and then pour custard over the toasted cubes, immersing them. Then with your fingers, make sure all toast cubes are covered in liquid. Let them soak up the custard for a good 20 minutes.
Next, place in oven for about 15 minutes until the custard is slightly firm. Cool a bit.
You can refrigerate at this point and cover tightly. Puddings will hold for 3 days. They also freeze nicely for about 2 weeks.
Serve in ramekin or turn upside down and remove pudding. Top with ice cream and chocolate sauce.
Good Luck, Danielle!!

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