"I'm ready for my bread pudding now."
Jamie says this with a straight face on random evenings while we're watching TV before bed, his blue eyes big and hopeful, with a hint of teasing behind them.
"Hmm, that's nice," I'll reply. "There's bread, eggs and milk in the fridge." I know, as I say it, that Ezekiel bread is completely unsuited for bread pudding, but it's usually all we have on hand, unless we've picked up a loaf of artisan bread for crostini or garlic bread. I also know that he doesn't really expect me to make him bread pudding at 9:30pm on a weeknight.
A few minutes pass, and he turns to me again. "How's that bread pudding coming?"
In many ways, Jamie and my sister's husband Chris are so much alike, and when I tell Laura stories like this, she laughs and says that it's just the sort of thing Chris would say or do. One of Chris's favorite lines, after finishing whatever dessert Laura has made, is to say, "Okay, I'll have that," as though what he just polished off was just his "dessert appetizer" and not the main dessert course.
When I asked Jamie a few days later if he was still in the mood for bread pudding and suggested individual bread puddings for dessert that Friday evening, he pretended disinterest and said, "Nah, that was SOooo two days ago..."
But I knew he couldn't pretend for long, not when I said I'd be cooking tart apples with spices and brown sugar, then soaking buttery croissants in a custard spiked with bourbon and vanilla, and drizzling the baked puddings with warm caramel sauce before finishing them with a sprinkling of toasted pecans and a pinch of salt.
A scoop of butter pecan ice cream with more caramel sauce melted into a lovely ice cream and caramel river that soaked into all the nooks and crannies of the bread pudding.
If only spring brought with it rivers of melted ice cream and caramel instead of the muddy gray streams of melting snow and ice that we have everywhere with this endless cycle of snow, sunshine, snow, sunshine, snow....
After another late spring snowstorm last night, the sky is blue today, scattered with fluffy white clouds, the promise of a few days of warm weather. Every time I see a little blue sky after it snows, I want to run towards it, like Marianne in Sense and Sensibility, and cry, "There's some blue sky - let us chase it!"
Salted Caramel Apple Bread Pudding
- 1 tart apple (such as Granny Smith), peeled, cored and chopped
- 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
- 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar
- pinch cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger and cloves
- 2 tablespoons water
- 2 eggs
- 1/3 cup whole milk, cream, or a combination of both
- 2 tablespoons liqueur, such as good-quality Scotch, Bourbon or Captain Morgan Spiced Rum (optional)
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
- 2 croissants, torn into 1-inch pieces
- 1/4 cup salted caramel sauce (or use store-bought caramel topping), slightly warmed
- 2 tablespoons chopped, toasted pecans or walnuts
Preheat the oven to 350. Butter (or use non-stick spray) two individual, oven-safe ramekins or bowls.
In a small saucepan, combine the chopped apple, butter, brown sugar, spices and water. Cook over low heat for 10-15 minutes until the apple is softened and the liquid is reduced and syrupy.
Meanwhile, in a bowl whisk together the eggs, milk/cream, liqueur, vanilla and salt. Stir in the croissant pieces and set aside to let the bread absorb the liquid.
When the apple is cooked to your liking, set aside to cool for 10 minutes (so that the hot apple doesn't scramble the egg in the custard). Stir the apple mixture into the bread mixture. Divide bread pudding between the ramekins.
Bake pudding at 350 for 20 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack for 5-10 minutes, then drizzle with the caramel and sprinkle with the nuts. Add a touch of extra coarse salt right on top. Serve with ice cream.
Yields 2 servings.
Recipe from Curly Girl Kitchen