I don’t make bread pudding often, but it used to be part of my daily routine. When I worked as a chef, bread pudding was a very popular item on the menu, and I was tasked with preparing it. There are endless variations of this classic dessert, and I have had some great ones over the years. A decadent chocolate one can be fabulous around the winter holidays. But this recipe I developed because I wanted a simpler one, with nice vanilla flavor. I also love caramel, so I had to add that as well. I top this bread pudding with a delicious caramel sauce, which allows me to control the sweetness factor a bit more. The trick to all of my bread pudding recipes is the bread: challah (or a great brioche) bread makes the best bread pudding. Trust me, no matter what you read, don’t use French bread. Usually I like to bake my bread pudding directly in the ramekins themselves, but not with this recipe. I bake this one in a simple baking pan. To serve, I scoop it into individual ramekins and top with the caramel sauce and whipped cream—for an admittedly uber-indulgent treat. This is an easy, make-ahead dessert that works well with guests and never disappoints. You can serve it warm or chilled depending on your preference, both are delightful.
- 1 (1-pound) challah, bread cut into 1/2-inch squares
- 2 cups sugar
- 4 eggs
- 4 egg yolks
- 2 cups milk
- 2 cups heavy cream
- 1 1/2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1/4 teaspoon almond extract
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 whole vanilla bean, split lengthwise and beans scrapped
- Step 1 Place the cubed challah in a lightly greased 8×8-inch or 9×9-inch square baking pan.
- Step 2 In a large mixing bowl add the sugar, eggs and eggs yolks, whisk well till pale yellow in color.
- Step 3 Add the milk, cream, vanilla extract, almond extract, bourbon and whole vanilla bean scraped (seeds only). Whisk well to incorporate.
- Step 4 Pour the custard mixture onto the challah. Using a rubber spatula, gently press down to incorporate the custard into the challah. Plastic wrap and refrigerate for 1 hour to soak.
- Step 5 Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Place the baking pan on a baking sheet and place in the middle of the oven.
- Step 6 Bake for about 45 minutes or until set in the middle.
- Step 7 Cool slightly before serving in individual ramekins or on dessert plates. Top with with warm caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream if desired.
- 1 cup brown sugar, packed
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- pinch of salt
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- Step 1 Put the brown sugar, heavy cream, butter and salt into a medium size sauce pan over low heat. Cook while whisking for about 6-7 minutes or until it begins to thicken.
- Step 2 Add the vanilla extract and cook for an additional 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool slightly.
- Step 3 Refrigerate caramel sauce till needed, warm on low in microwave if needed.