Chef Notes: Bread Pudding With Hazelnut Liqueur Sauce

Chef Notes: Bread Pudding With Hazelnut Liqueur Sauce

I have such fond memories of my grandmother, most of which involve her cooking. My grandmother had no formal training, owned only a handful of cookbooks, and probably never heard of foie gras. She prepared relatively simple but incredibly tasty southern food and desserts. She just had a knack for it.

One of my favorite desserts was her bread pudding. Having grown up in the depression, my grandmother was very conscious of waste. She was always looking for ways to repurpose or reuse food. She would keep plastic bags full of scraps of bread in the freezer. Some bags were full of corn bread, to be used for dressing/stuffing. Other bags were full of bread ends, left over biscuits (when there were any), a half of a hot dog roll here, a couple of dinner rolls there. When she had enough scraps saved up she would throw together a bread pudding. She didn’t use heavy cream or have any liquor in the house for special sauces. It was just a sweet, eggie bread pudding.  We all loved it. The leftovers were sliced and sauted in butter the next morning and served like French toast.

chefnotesbreadpudding

My version is more complicated but I confess that I do save bread ends and incorporate them into my bread pudding, despite what my recipe says. Everyone I’ve ever served this to goes crazy over it. I hope you enjoy it as well.

Chef Notes: Bread Pudding With Hazelnut Liqueur Sauce

Ingredients

  • For the pudding:
  • 1 tsp unsalted butter
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ½ tsp freshly ground nutmeg
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla
  • ¼ c hazelnut liqueur (Frangelico is a common brand name, amaretto liqueur is also great but you can also use whisky or bourbon or omit if desired)
  • 2 cups half and half
  • 2 cups day old french bread cut into 1 inch cubes
  • 2 cups day old thickly sliced cinnamon bread cut into 1 inch cubes
  • For the hazelnut liqueur sauce:
  • 1 ½  cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup half and half
  • 2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • 1 tblsp cornstarch
  • ¼ cup hazelnut liquor (amaretto liquor is also great but you can also use whisky or bourbon or use water to mix with cornstarch if you want to omit the liquor altogether)
  • For the spiced whipped cream:
  • 1 quart heavy cream
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • ½ tsp ground cinnamon
  • ¼ tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Method

Whisk eggs, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and liqueur in a large mixing bowl until very smooth.  Add half and half and stir well. 

Stir in bread. 

Let the mixture sit, refrigerated, for a minimum of two hours.  I try to let it sit overnight.

Heat oven to 350 degrees. 

Butter bottom and sides of loaf pan. 

Pour mixture into prepared pan and bake until set in the center, about 1 hour.

A toothpick inserted into the middle should pull out cleanly.

Let cool for 15-20 minutes.

To serve, slice into 1 inch thick slices and top with sauce and whipped cream.

For the hazelnut liquor sauce:

Heat the cream, half and half, vanilla, and sugar in a saucepan over high heat, whisking vigorously for 3 minutes. 

Dissolve cornstarch in the liquor or water (called a slurry by the way). 

When bubbles begin to form around the edges of the cream mixture whisk in your slurry. 

Continue whisking over high heat until mixture begins to boil, remove from heat and whisk in the slurry. 

Continue whisking until slightly thickened.  The sauce is meant to be fairly thin (think bisque NOT gravy).

For the whipped cream:

Beat all ingredients with an electric mixer on high in a large mixing bowl until thick and stiff peaks form.

 

 

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