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Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
using Pantry Essentials from The Posh Gourmet

Recipe courtesy Sandie Jarrett

Makes 6 luscious little desserts

Luscious bread pudding has long been a favorite among dessert lovers.  My Grandmother used to call it "Poor Mans Cake" because it was a way to use up every last bit of bread – especially the stale pieces.  Adding pumpkin to the custard turns this classic dessert into an Autumn treat.  If you are a chocolate lover, substitute the raisins with chocolate chips and drizzle with heated  Grand Marnier Fudge Sauce in place of the Caramel Sauce. 

A fresh loaf of home baked Challah or Brioche takes a little extra time, but is well worth it.  Using an automatic bread machine for preparing the rich egg dough makes it easy.  If making Challah, you won't need to braid it, since the bread will be cubed.  You can bake the bread in your bread machine  or remove the dough from the machine and bake in the oven.  If you wish, you can also use a loaf of Challah or Brioche from the bakery.   

Making The Pumpkin Bread Pudding

For best results, bake the bread puddings the day before and store in a zip-loc bag.  Reheat in the microwave for 30 - 45 seconds and serve immediately.

Ingredients

1 cup half and half
1 cup fresh pumpkin, cooked and pureed (or a 15 oz can solid pack pumpkin)
1/2 cup dark brown sugar, packed
1 large egg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup toasted pecans, chopped
3 tablespoons raisins
5 cups cubed (1/2 inch) Brioche or Challah (recipe follows for Brioche)
1 recipe Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)

Butter 6 ramekins (6 - 8 oz).*  

Method

Whisk all ingredients except for the bread, raisins, and pecans in a large bowl until combined.  Fold in the bread cubes to coat.  Gently stir in the raisins and pecans.  Allow the mixture to sit for about 15 minutes while the bread soaks up some of the custard.

Meanwhile, position the oven rack to the center of the oven.  Preheat the oven to 350F.  Divide the custard mixture evenly between the 6 prepared dishes, pressing down slightly to make each one level.  If any raisins are on top, poke them down below the surface as they tend to burn.  Transfer the filled ramekins to a baking sheet and place in the oven.  Bake until the custards are set in the center and the tops are golden, about 35 - 40 minutes.  If the tops are browning too quickly, place a sheet of foil loosely over the tops.

Remove from the oven; cool about 5 minutes, then gently loosen by running a metal spatula around the puddings, including the bottom.  Cool for 10 - 15 minutes more before unmolding onto a dessert plate.  Finish with a drizzle of warm Caramel Sauce (recipe follows).  If the sauce is too thick, you can thin by heating on the stove and stirring in a small amount of cream.

Preparing the Brioche

If time permits, bake the day before making the bread pudding.  Otherwise, allow to cool completely before cutting into cubes.  Leftover slices of Brioche make delicious French Toast or Cinnamon Toast. 

Makes 1 medium sized Brioche

This recipe uses an automatic bread machine for preparing a rich, buttery loaf of Brioche.  

Ingredients

3 cups bread flour
3 tablespoons sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1 cup milk
4 tablespoons butter, cut into pieces
2 eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons yeast
butter for greasing the bread pan

Method

You should always follow the directions that came with your bread machine.  For most machines, add the flour first, then add the sugar, salt, milk, butter, and eggs.  Add the yeast to the yeast dispenser, or according to the manufacturer's directions. Set the machine to the dough cycle (or bake in the bread machine as following the instructions for your appliance).

When the dough cycle is complete, remove the dough and turn it out onto a lightly floured surface.  Punch the dough down to remove excess air.  Transfer the dough to a buttered loaf or brioche pan.  Cover with a clean tea towel and allow to rise in a warm draft free location until the dough has doubled in size.  Bake in a preheated 375F oven for about 30 - 40 minutes.  Check browning after 20 minutes.  If the bread is browning too fast, lay a piece of foil over the top as a shield. 

Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10 - 15 minutes before turning out onto a cooling rack.  When the bread has completely cooled, proceed with making the Bread Pudding.

Preparing the Caramel Sauce

Ingredients

2/3 cup dark brown sugar (packed)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/4 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon chopped pecans, optional

Method

Stir the butter and the sugar together in a heavy sauce pan over medium heat.  Stir until the butter melts and the mixture is bubbling.  Blend in the cream.  Continue to stir the bubbling mixture for 4 - 5 minutes.  Add the pecans, if desired, and remove from heat.   Allow to cool a few minutes before using.

Cook's Notes:

*Alternately, use a 6 compartment (6 – 8 oz capacity) muffin tin or an 8 X 8 baking dish.

 
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