Sometimes you just have to treat yourself: to shoes and handbags, or a night on the town; to a new video game or tickets to see your fav sports teams; to something truly decadent, like truffles and caviar; or maybe, just maybe, to bourbon-pecan bread pudding.
You see, bread pudding is one of those desserts you save up for. Not save up in the monetary sense, because bread pudding is incredibly easy on the wallet, but save up in a more goal-oriented way, like when you’ve had a difficult month to work through or when you’ve finally achieved a longstanding goal.
For instance, in the past three weeks my husband Doug has had two surgeries—meaning not only do I have to do all of my usual work, but I also have to take care of Douglas, who isn’t particularly mobile, and try and keep the house clean by myself. Fun, fun, fun! But this woman has made it to the other side—through the worst of it, you might say—and it feels mighty good. Hella good. And this, my friends, is how I know I deserve a bread pudding, and a bourbon-pecan bread pudding at that.
In a way, bread pudding is glorified version of French toast. However, rather than simply dip bread (brioche is best) in batter, you cube it into 1-inch pieces,then toss them with pecans and bathe them in a luxurious egg-based custard spiked with Maker’s Mark and fragrant spices. The whole thing is baked until it’s brown and crispy on the top, but underneath the golden crust is the smooth, creamy, melt-in-your mouth bread pudding, which you’ll eagerly spoon into your mouth. Homemade vanilla bean ice cream is THE topping for this bread pudding, but store-bought will always do in a pinch. The cool vanilla ice cream melts into the warm bread pudding, making mouths—and stomachs—very very happy.
So go ahead, make this bread pudding. You deserve it.
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Bourbon-Pecan Bread Pudding
You can bake this bread pudding in a 13 x 9 baking dish or in ramekins for individual servings. This recipe makes enough for about 6-8 large ramekins or 10-12 servings in a baking pan. Covered, it will stay well in the fridge for 5 to 7 days—if it lasts that long. Click here to download a printable copy of this recipe.
1 (1-pound) day-old loaf Italian bread or Brioche
1½ c. chopped pecans
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup bourbon, such as Maker’s Mark
1 cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. kosher salt
1 tsp. cinnamon
¼ tsp. nutmeg
1. Preheat the oven to 350˚F. Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes. Arrange in a baking dish and toss with the pecans.
2. Whisk the eggs in a large bowl. Add the remaining ingredients to the eggs and whisk well to combine.
3. Pour the egg mixture over the bread, making sure every piece of bread is nicely coated.
4. Bake the bread pudding in the preheated oven for about 55 minutes, or until the top of the pudding is golden brown and crispy and the eggs have set. Remove from oven, and let cool for 10 minutes before serving with vanilla bean ice cream.