Monday, December 3, 2012

Caramel Sauce, Whiskey and Wild Wild Bread Pudding

It's the season!  November has ended, Thanksgiving is officially over now and, contrary to what retailers would have us believe, the Christmas season has begun.  I have noticed, as I get older, that I am becoming more and more adamant about the fact that "Christmas" does not start until December.  The entire concept of Black Friday can kiss my back side.  Oye!  I stay home and eat left-over Thanksgiving pie.  (I love Pie day!)  Then again, I have usually finished my Christmas shopping before Halloween.  Not always, but most of the time.  Which leaves me free to spend the early part of December baking a myriad of Shortbreads, Candies and other small bites of delicious holiday cheer.

However, before I get involved in making the 6 Pumpkin Rolls that I need to hand out this year, I wanted to share one of my favorite winter time desserts.  One, incidentally, that I very rarely make.  Bread Pudding.

The problem is that I come from a bread eating family.  A serious bread eating family.  Every one of us consumes bread at truly alarming rate.  My niece's favorite summertime BBQ treat is a hot dog without the hot dog, meaning just the bun with hot dog fixin's on it.  I know it's in the family genes, because that was my favorite sandwich when I was little as well.  Ketchup, Mustard and Mayonnaise spread on bread and consumed with relish (when available) Whether it's homemade bread crumbs over Cauliflower, chunks ripped off a loaf and dipped in olive oil with dinner, or the proverbial left-over turkey sandwich after Thanksgiving.  The bread just seems to disappear around here in no time at all.  Thus there is never EVER any day old bread to make a descent bread pudding. (sigh)

But, I finally remembered to buy an extra loaf of Sourdough and hide it from myself a few days ago.  On some level, I think it's pretty sad that I have to hide bread from myself due to my lack of self control.  But it is what it is.  Maybe my subconscious mind will register the reward of bread pudding and it will assist me in resisting the temptation in the future.

Yeah, No.  Not happening in this lifetime.

I will admit that I prefer to have booze in my bread puddings.  I think it has to do with bread pudding's similarity to Christmas puddings, which are usually soaked in brandy and ignited. Alcohol just seems like a natural addition.  Be it Scotch with Butterscotch sauce, Bourbon and Egg Nog Sauce Sauce, Rum and ButterRhum Sauce, Brandy and Hard Sauce or, as in this case, Whiskey and Whiskey Caramel Sauce....  It's ALL kinds of good.   After all, 'tis the season to spread some Holiday Cheer, Right?  ;)

Irish Bread Pudding with Whiskey Caramel Sauce

Irish Bread Pudding
2 oz (56g) Unsalted Butter, melted
10 oz (284g) Sourdough Bread
1/2 cup (72g) Currants (you can use Raisins if you like)
1/4 cup (59ml) Irish Whiskey
1 3/4 cup (414ml) Half and Half
1 cup (200g) plus 1 TB Granulated Sugar
1 1/2 tsp Vanilla
12 oz (355ml) Evaporated Milk
2 large Eggs
1 tsp Cinnamon

Whiskey Caramel Sauce
1 1/2 cups (300g) Granulated Sugar
2/3 cup (156ml) Water
4 oz (113g) Unsalted Butter, cut into chunks
1/4 cup (59ml) Irish Whiskey (I like Bushmills)
1/4 cup (59ml) Heavy Cream

Preheat the oven to 350F degrees.
Cut the bread into 1-inch thick slices and brush with the melted butter and place butter side up on a baking sheet.

Bake the bread for about 10 minutes, or until the edges begin to turn golden.

Cut the bread into 1/2 inch cubes and set aside.

In a small bowl, macerate the Currants in the Irish Whiskey, then cover and set aside.

In a large bowl, combine Half and Half with Sugar, Vanilla, Evaporated Milk and Eggs, whisking well to combine.

Add Bread cubes, tossing well to coat, then cover and allow to sit for 15 minutes.

Butter a 13x9-inch baking dish.

Stir the macerated Currants into the bread custard mixture.

Pour the resulting mixture into the prepared baking dish.

Combine the remaining 1 TB Sugar with the Cinnamon.

Gently sprinkle the Cinnamon Sugar mixture over the pudding.

 Bake for 35 minutes, or until slightly puffed in the center.

While the pudding is baking, make the Whiskey Caramel sauce.
Combine Sugar and Water in a medium saucepan set over medium flame.

Stir until the Sugar dissolves and the syrup comes to a boil.

Let the mixture boil until it begins to turn amber brown.

When the caramel has reached its amber color, stir in the butter with a whisk (it will bubble and steam)

Once the butter has been melted into the caramel (the fat will prevent crystallization) remove the caramel from the heat and add the Irish Whiskey and Heavy Cream. (the mixture will bubble and steam again)

Pour into a heat proof pitcher and allow the caramel to cool. (I like to use empty honey bears for my cooled caramel sauces.... easier application)
Once the pudding has finished baking, and has cooled slightly, cut 3-inch square pieces and place in a bowl and drizzle liberally with Whiskey Caramel.

Add a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.



Patti T. said...

This sounds really good. My mind is racing thinking of all the other alcoholic beverages that might taste good. You tend to spark my imagination, thank you for that.

Shane Wingerd said...

It sounds a little odd, but I think I drink more around the Holidays. It's because of the weather. There are just so many tasty things made with alcohol that are warm. Between the Wassail, Hot Buttered Rum, Hot Nail, Tom and Jerry, Hot Toddy, Mulled Wine, Buttered Beer and Spanish Coffee I never know which one to have first. LOL Color my nose red.

Patti T. said...

Now I feel safe in saying hubby and I enjoy an alcoholic drink in the evenings during cold weather. Today was 72 degrees, sounds like beer weather to me. I also enjoy mulled wine, when we lived in Germany they had stands at the end of the streets in the shopping districts that sold Gluh wein ohhhhh so good. The shopping districts were pedestrians only, loved that. Then we took the strassenbaun (sp?) (streetcar) home so no drinking and driving.