Friday, November 16, 2012

Pumpkin Spice Bread Pudding with Egg Nog Creme Anglaise

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I give thanks daily for the bounty of this year's sugar pumpkin harvest.  If not for the fertile vines on my family plot, I'd not have all this fodder for Thanksgiving recipes.  And when I have fodder for recipes, I get to celebrate the treats of Thanksgiving weeks prior to the big bellied day.



On of my favorites is this bread pudding.  It's lighter than the heavy stuff you're used too.  Don't get me wrong, it's got all the bready goodness but by folding fluffy meringue into the baked custard, you create a buoyancy not often found in this time honored dessert.  Pipe meringue over the pudding and you've got yourself a Thanksgiving capper for which everyone will be thankful.


PUMPKIN SPICE BREAD PUDDING WITH EGG NOG CREME ANGLAISE
(serves 8)

INGREDIENTS

For the bread pudding

Pumpkin Brioche Buns, diced.

8 cups pumpkin brioche buns, diced into 1 inch pieces
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup pumpkin puree
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 eggs
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 cup craisins
1 - 2 tablespoons butter

For the meringue

7 egg whites
1 1/4 cups sugar
pinch salt
1/2 cup water

For the Egg Nog Creme Anglaise sauce

1  cup heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1/3 cup brown sugar
7 egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste
2 tablespoons dark rum
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
pinch salt

PROCEDURE

For the bread pudding

Preheat oven to 350º.

•Butter the bottoms and sides of a large baking dish.  Sprinkle the Craisins on the bottom of the pan.

•Whisk together the heavy cream, pumpkin puree, brown sugar, maple, spices and salt until smooth.  Whisk in the eggs, one by one, until the custard is smooth.  Stir in the brioche cubes and allow to soak, at least 10 minutes.

Soaking.


•Pour the custard and bread mixture on top of the Craisins and bake for 35 to 40 minutes, until the top is golden brown and the custard is set.  Set aside to cool completely.

Baked and waiting to be meringued.

For the meringue

***NOTE:  We're making an Italian meringue here.  I do this for the greater stability of the meringue, which is crucial when you're traveling with a dessert or when you have to make it a day ahead.  You can make a dry or French meringue (just slowly pour the sugar into the whisking egg whites until stiff peaked but not dry) and proceed with the assembly as directed below.***

•Whisk the egg whites and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment until light and frothy.

•Combine the sugar and water and stir over low heat until the sugar has completely melted.  Attach a candy thermometer and increase heat to medium-high.  Heat the sugar syrup to 234º.

•Carefully pour the sugar syrup down the side of the bowl of whisking egg whites and continue whisking on high until the egg whites quadruple in size and are stiff and shiny.

•Stir the bread pudding to distribute the Craisins and to make sure the pudding is cool to the touch.  Transfer 1/3 of the meringue to the bread pudding and fold into the pudding until incorporated.
Meringue...folded

• Using the back of a spoon, spread the pudding evenly over the baking dish.  Pipe the remaining meringue on to the bread pudding in decorative peaks.

Peaked.


•Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until golden brown and baked through.

For the Creme Anglaise

***Prepare while the meringue topped bread pudding is baking***

•Combine the cream, milk, rum and vanilla in a saucepan and bring to a simmer.

•In the bowl of a stand mixer fit with the whisk attachment, combine the egg yolks, brown sugar, nutmeat and salt.  Whisk until combined and smooth.

•Slowly pour the simmering cream mixture down the side of the mixing bowl while whisking and continue whisking until the custard is well combined.

•Return the mixture to the saucepan and whisk constantly over medium heat until the sauce just coats the back of a spoon.

•Pour the custard through a sieve into a sauce boat and serve a hearty ladleful over each serving of bread pudding.



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