It's December and that means yummy holiday foods! And holiday foods mean desserts! So, this month's What's Cooking theme will be tasty treats to satiate your sweet tooth! Enjoy! I've only had bread pudding in restaurants. I always thought it was too time consuming and complicated to make myself. But then I saw this recipe in Bon Appetit and just had to try it. I'd tasted something similar at a local tapas place in Virginia and I was hoping this would be a good replica. Oh my word! It was so much better! I paired it with Julia Childs' Beef Bourguignon, another first in my kitchen and it did not disappoint! In fact, I think I'll make it again for Christmas dinner. Yes. It was that good! Keep in mind, you need to start this dish the night before...it's worth the wait!
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)
1 pound day-old rustic white bread, crusts removed, cut into 1/2” cubes (12 cups)
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
4 cups heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups pecan pieces
For the butterscotch sauce: Bring brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisking to dissolve sugar. Boil until mixture is syrupy and measures 1 1/2 cups, about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; add cream and bourbon, if desired, and stir until smooth. Let cool. Can be made 3 days ahead. Let cool completely, cover, and chill. Rewarm before serving.
For the pudding: Toss bread, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer, beat eggs and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in another large bowl until pale yellow and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add cream, poppy seeds, and salt; beat to blend. Place bourbon in a small bowl; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for another use). Whisk to distribute seeds, then add to egg mixture, whisking to blend well. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture in bowl. Add pecans and toss to coat well. Transfer mixture to a 13x9 glass or ceramic baking dish, spreading out in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
Preheat oven to 325. Remove plastic wrap and bake until top is browned in spots and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 75-90 minutes. Serve bread pudding with butterscotch sauce.
Recipe adapted from Bon Appetite, November 2011.