Beyond Shamrocks and Faith and Begorrah, March is such a transitional month. Sometimes still cold and other times kissed by spring as the Crocus smile and the Forsythia crowns the Carolinas in glory.
This month I’m doing bread pudding. It sounds so easy yet it’s very hard to get perfect. The good news is even a failure of a bread pudding tastes delicious. The trick with bread pudding is to get the perfect soak on the bread without creating a sloppy mess, much like French Toast.
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1/2 tsp Cardamom
- 1/2 tsp Nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
- 4 thick slices of bread (I like a soft bread like brioche or challah) cut into 1 inch cubes
- 1 bottle of Guinness® Stout
- 1/2 cup Brown Sugar
- Pinch of salt
- 5 Eggs
- 1 cup cream
- 1 Tbs Vanilla
- 1 cup Sugar
- Optional- Chocolate Chips, Toffee Chips
Melt butter in a large skillet and add the first three spices. Once melted and bubbly add the bread cubes and toss with the butter browning much as you would croutons. They should be crispy outside but still have a give to them.
Mix the Guinness, brown sugar and salt in a sauce pan and cook until reduced to a thick syrup that covers the back of the spoon. Watch this process as it will foam and boil over. Meanwhile, mix eggs, cream and vanilla. When the syrup is nice and thick, cool slightly then drizzle over the bread cubes and toss in a bowl (add optional items) working to coat the cubes evenly. Place the bread either in a buttered pan or in ramekins. Pour the egg/cream mixture over top.
Bake for an hour at 325° or till the top is springy. To serve I top mine with some caramel sauce, but a nice bourbon sauce works just as well (or for more Irish use Irish Whisky). Add a dollop of whipped cream or a small scoop of ice cream and it is a winner.
Why the Guinness works- Yes beer in a dessert may sound weird, but it already has chocolate and coffee notes so with the brown sugar and the toasted spices, the bit of acidity in the beer rounds things out. Don’t be afraid to create your own pot o’ gold and watch your family or guests do a leprechaun dance in appreciation.
Until next month, Make It Your Own!