Signature Dish: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with trimmings

WHO: Cynthia Beaulieu, 40, business consultant and mother of two "wonderfully adventurous eaters."

WHAT: Pumpkin Bread Pudding With Caramel Sauce and Cinnamon Whipped Cream.

ABOUT THE RECIPE: Unable to spend Thanksgiving with family one year, Cynthia and her children were invited to a potluck. "I was asked to bring a dessert but someone else was bringing my family standby, pecan pie, so I decided to find something a little nontraditional for our unusual gathering that year. When I ran across this recipe it seemed like the perfect fit between the traditional pumpkin and whipped cream and the nontraditional bread pudding and caramel. . . . I've altered a few things here and there, as I tend to do with all my favorite dishes, and every time it's been a success."

TIPS FOR OTHERS: Use croissants for the bread pudding rather than French or Italian bread. "It makes for a rich buttery base that I highly recommend. In addition, I tend to go a little heavy on the spices, so my quantities listed should all have a plus symbol after them."

CAN'T COOK WITHOUT: "While I don't use a great deal of salt, I only use kosher salt when I do. It dissolves better than table salt and has a nice flavor, a must for any cook."

THE COOK SAYS: "I tell my daughter that cooking is a combination of math, science and art. Experimenting with the ratios presents beautiful opportunities for creativity!"

B Buckberry Joyce, Times staff writer

Signature Dish is published periodically in Taste. If you have a recipe that you would like featured or would like to nominate other home cooks and their dishes, please e-mail the information to features@sptimes.com and include a name and daytime phone number. Include SIGNATURE DISH in the subject line. Nominations can be mailed to Taste, St. Petersburg Times, P.O. Box 1121, St. Petersburg, FL 33731.

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Pumpkin Bread Pudding

For the bread pudding:

2 cups half-and-half

1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin (not pie filling)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, firmly packed

2 large eggs

1 ½ teaspoons pumpkin pie spice

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

10 cups ½-inch cubes of bread, about 10 ounces (see note)

½ cups golden raisins or dried cranberries

For the caramel sauce:

1 ¼ cups packed dark brown sugar

½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter

½ cup whipping cream

For the cinnamon whipped cream, an optional indulgence:

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup powdered sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon Grand Marnier

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. To make the bread pudding, whisk half-and-half, pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla extract in a large bowl to blend.

Fold in bread cubes.

Stir in dried fruit.

Transfer mixture to an 11- by 17-inch glass baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray and let stand 15 minutes.

Bake bread pudding about 40 minutes or until tester inserted into center comes out clean.

While the pudding is cooking, make the caramel sauce and whipped cream. In a heavy saucepan over medium heat, whisk the brown sugar and butter together, cooking until the butter melts.

Whisk in the cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes.

To make the whipped cream topping, in a separate, clean bowl, whip the heavy cream. Slowly add the powdered sugar, cinnamon and Grand Marnier, beating until stiff peaks form.

Serve bread pudding warm with caramel sauce and a dollop of whipped cream.

Note: For the bread cubes, croissants are recommended, but you also can use French or Italian bread.

Source: Cynthia Beaulieu,

St. Petersburg

Signature Dish: Pumpkin Bread Pudding with trimmings 11/21/09 [Last modified: Saturday, November 21, 2009 3:30am]

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