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by Sarah Steimer

Shot of bourbon on the side is not optional.

For bread pudding

  • 4 cups cubed day-old French bread
  • 1/2 cup walnut or pecans, chopped
  • 2 large eggs
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 cups evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 cups cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon cloves or nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup raisins (I used golden raisins)
  • 1/2 bar chocolate, chopped
  • 3 teaspoons granulated sugar
  • 1 tablespoon butter

For bourbon sauce

  • 1/3 cup evaporated fat-free milk
  • 1/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons bourbon
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt

Spread bread cubes and nuts on a cookie sheet and bake, stirring a few times, at 325 degrees for about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, whisk eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl. Blend in evaporated milk, vanilla, cinnamon, chocolate and nutmeg. Stir the bread and nut mix into this, mixing so the bread is well-covered by the liquid. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes to an hour.

Lightly coat a shallow 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray (I used a pie dish and just adjusted the recipe accordingly). Sprinkle with 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar. Melt butter in a saucepan until it turns a light nutty brown (do not burn). Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.

No wonder the South is slow, if they're snacking on desserts like this and sippin' bourbon all day I don't blame them for taking a little extra time.

Pour the bread mixture into the prepared dish. Drizzle the butter over top and sprinkle with the remaining 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar. Bake the pudding at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until the center is firm. Increase the temperature to 425 degrees and bake for a few more minutes until the top is brown and puffed.

While the mixture cooks, place a mixing bowl, beaters and evaporated milk in the freezer to chill for about 20 minutes — do not skip this step! I only put it in for a few minutes and the milk didn’t beat as well so I had to pop it back in. Beat the milk in the chilled bowl until it is the consistency of whipped cream. Gradually add 1/4 cup granulated sugar, bourbon and yogurt until thickened. Serve the warm bread with the sauce.

FYI: If you don’t like bourbon, you aren’t going to like this.

Makes about eight servings.

Recipe adapted from: Eating Well on a Budget

Photos: Sarah Steimer

Baking tips:

  • It never hurts to experiment. I’ve never made or even eaten bread pudding before this recipe. Might be my new favorite dessert.
  • Everyone always stresses the importance of following baking recipes to a T. Forget that. Add what you want, take out what you want (short of completely changing the recipe and ruining your food, of course). Try to find good “base” recipes that you can add a twist to, like a basic sugar cookie or sweet bread.
  • Day-old bread is your baking friend. It makes the best bread pudding, French toast and croutons.

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