Bread pudding is a very southern sort of dessert and it's not really hard to make, but it seems like so few people make it anymore. It's one of the dishes you find served at various Kentucky Derby themed parties and events, usually topped with a Kentucky bourbon sauce, which is just an unbelievably good sauce. I mean it's butter, sugar, bourbon and vanilla... what's not to like? If you don't want to use the bourbon, just increase the vanilla to 1 tablespoon. However, the vanilla is just mainly alcohol also and you do boil this so it all cooks out.
We are using slightly stale croissants for this bread pudding, but you can make bread pudding out of almost any type bread. I will say the croissants work wonderfully for a bread pudding because of their flaky layers and light texture. The croissants just really soak up the custard and it settles in all of the little nooks and crannies. Do I sound a little too excited about this recipe? I really am, because it is just one of the best bread puddings I have tried and I just don't think there is any way to mess it up. Here is what you will need:
9 small bakery croissants or 6 of the large croissants (slightly stale ones work best)
1 cup raisins (optional)
5 cups half and half
1 cup white sugar
1 cup brown sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
pinch of salt
2 tsp. of vanilla
Kentucky Bourbon Sauce
1/2 cup butter (1 stick)
1 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup buttermilk
2 Tbs. white corn syrup
1/4 cup good Kentucky bourbon
1 tsp. baking soda
Cut the croissants lengthwise. Place the bottoms in a 9"x13" dish that has been sprayed well with nonstick spray, preferably for baking. Sprinkle each half with raisins if you are using them.
Place the top halves back on each croissant.
In a mixing bowl, mix the eggs, half and half cream, sugars, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Pour evenly over the croissants. Allow to sit for about 15 minutes to absorb some of the custard. Press each croissant down in the liquid a couple of times.
Place the baking dish on a large cookie sheet and cover with foil. With a knife, cut some small vents in the foil all over. Place in a preheated 325 degree oven for 1 hour. Remove the foil and turn the oven up to 350. Cook for 25 to 30 minutes at that temperature. The pudding will puff and start to brown. If it starts to get too brown, lay the foil back over the top loosely and it will prevent it from burning.
This is what it will look like after it sits out of the oven for a bit.
When it's out of the oven, start the bourbon sauce. Place the butter, sugar, buttermilk, vanilla, corn syrup and bourbon in a deep saucepan and cook on medium until it's all melted and incorporated. Add the baking soda and bring to a boil for 1 minute. The reaction of the baking soda will make this bubble and roll, so be careful or it will boil over. Stir continuously after you add the baking soda and if it bubbles too much remove it from the heat until it settles back down. Once it boils for 1 minute, it's ready to serve. Serve over the still warm bread pudding with a dollop of whipped cream. This is also good the next day right out of the refrigerator, cold or you can reheat it.
Croissant Bread Pudding!