Recipe: White-chocolate bread pudding with whiskey caramel sauce
Total time: 1 hour and 10 minutes, plus baking time (about 1 1/2 hours on high, 3 hours on low)
Servings: 8 to 10
Note: This recipe calls for finishing the bread pudding in the oven so the topping is lightly toasted and colored, as with oven-made bread pudding. If possible, cut the bread the night before making the pudding to allow the cubes to dry out.
For the bread pudding
2 cups heavy cream
1 1/4 cups white chocolate chips
1 1/2 cups sugar
2 cups milk
2 eggs, beaten
3 egg yolks, beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 loaf (1-pound) stale French or Italian bread cubes, cut into 1-inch pieces
2 cups toasted pecans
1. In a medium saucepan, heat the cream over medium heat. Meanwhile, place the chocolate chips in a large mixing bowl. When the cream comes to a simmer, remove the pan from the heat and pour the hot cream over the chocolate chips, whisking until the chips dissolve. Whisk the sugar into the mixture, then the milk, eggs, egg yolks and vanilla to form a custard base.
2. Add the bread to the bowl, gently stirring to coat the cubes with the custard base. Set the mixture aside to allow the bread to soak, about 45 minutes, tossing every several minutes so the cubes completely and evenly soak in the custard base.
3. Toss the pecans into the soaked bread mixture, then pour the mixture into a greased slow cooker insert. Cover the insert and place it in the slow cooker. Set the cooker to high heat and cook just until the custard is set in the center, about 1 1/2 hours (the time will vary depending on your model and type), or about 3 hours over low heat. The pudding is done when the custard is set in the center. Turn off the slow cooker, uncover and remove the insert.
4. While the custard is cooking, heat the oven to 400 degrees.
5. Place the slow cooker insert in the oven and continue to bake just until the top of the pudding is lightly colored and toasted. Remove to a rack to cool slightly.
Caramel sauce and assembly
1/3 cup whiskey
1 1/3 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon corn syrup
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
6 tablespoons ( 3/4 stick) butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 1/4 teaspoons vanilla extract
White chocolate bread pudding
1. In a small saute pan, pour the whiskey and place the pan over medium-high heat. Gently and carefully tilt the pan over the flame to flambé the alcohol (the alcohol will catch fire). Immediately remove from heat and let the flame continue to burn; the flame will self-extinguish when the alcohol is burned out of the whiskey. Set the whiskey aside.
2. In a large saucepan, combine the sugar, water and corn syrup, stirring until the sugar has the consistency of wet sand. Place the saucepan over high heat and cook until the sugar dissolves and begins to boil. Do not stir the sugar, as this may cause it to seize.
3. While the sugar is cooking, combine the cream, butter and salt in a saucepan over medium heat. Keep an eye on the sugar while you're heating the cream to keep it from scorching. Cook until the butter melts, stirring it into the cream. When the mixture has come to a simmer, remove from heat.
4. Continue to cook the sugar until it darkens to a rich caramel color, 7 to 10 minutes -- the sugar will darken quickly and noticeably and will smell faintly nutty. Swirl the pan as the sugar darkens to judge the true color of the caramel (the sugar may darken in patches if there are hot spots on the stove). Watch carefully as the sugar can easily overcook at this point and burn.
5. As soon as the color is a rich caramel, immediately remove the pan from the heat and quickly add the cream mixture in a slow, steady stream. The sugar will bubble and steam as the cream is added; be careful as both the mixture and steam are very hot. Carefully stir in the whiskey and vanilla.
6. Stir the caramel until it stops bubbling, then remove to a heat-proof container until needed. This makes about 2 1/2 cups sauce.
7. When the pudding is baked, spoon generous helpings into warm bowls. Drizzle the whiskey caramel sauce over it and serve immediately.
Each of 10 servings: 1,023 calories; 13 grams protein; 101 grams carbohydrates; 3 grams fiber; 64 grams fat; 30 grams saturated fat; 242 mg. cholesterol; 423 mg. sodium.