Sunday, May 29, 2011

Chocolate Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding

Today, Jamie turned 37, and this was the birthday dessert he requested, which I served last night during our poker game with friends.  This dessert is very rich and decadent, but also incredibly quick, if you take the shortcut I took.  I will admit, I really struggle with making caramel.  It burns, it separates, it crystallizes...  Two Christmases ago, I managed to make a couple of perfect batches of toffee, which was the first time I ever tried making caramel.  The process of cooking the sugar and butter is tricky, especially with an electric stove, where the heat is not constant the way it would be with a gas stove.  But for every batch that succeeded, I had a batch that failed (I used a lot of butter and sugar that winter experimenting with the process.)  I've even tried placing a cast iron pan underneath my pot of sugar, to more evenly distribute the heat, but even that did not work for me.

So for this recipe, I did use a jar of storebought caramel, but the result was still delicious.  (If you're interested in making your own caramel for this dish, you can reference the original recipe.)  But for you beginners at caramel making, read on!

Chocolate Caramel Croissant Bread Pudding
  • 6 croissants
  • 2/3 jar caramel topping (about 1 cup)
  • 6 eggs, beaten
  • 6 tablespoons bourbon (substitute 1 tablespoon of vanilla extract for an alcohol-free version)
  • 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chunks
  • ice cream or whipped cream

Preheat the oven to 350.  Tear the croissants into pieces, and place in a medium-sized baking dish.  Layer the pieces of croissants with the chocolate chunks so that you have chocolate all throughout the pudding, until all the croissants and chocolate are evenly dispersed in the dish.

Heat the caramel in the microwave until warm and pours easily.  Whisk the bourbon into the caramel.  Quickly, whisk the warm caramel into the beaten eggs until well incorporated.  Immediately pour mixture over the croissants and chocolate.  

Bake at 350 for 30 minutes.  Croissants will be slightly browned and crispy on top, and very soft and saturated with the caramel mixture underneath, with the chocolate slightly melted.  Spoon into serving dishes and serve warm, topped with ice cream or whipped cream.  We ate ours with butter pecan ice cream--so good!


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