Bread pudding is comfort food -although what I want to do with it is curl up with a spoon and a hot mug of tea in my PJs and devour it on the couch, it’s also something you can dress up and bring to dinner. Sauteed apples or pears make a delicious addition, as does dulce de leche (pronounced DOOL-say de LE-chay), a thick Spanish milk caramel that’s not as sweet as most caramel sauces. It’s wonderful as a sweetening agent for the pudding itself, and even better to drizzle overtop without overwhelming your pudding with sweetness. If you can’t find bottled dulce de leche, you can make your own – Kelsey shows you how here.
You could swap sourdough or a good-quality raisin bread for the crusty loaf; and use any kind of milk – or even eggnog – to make bread pudding. Obviously the heavier the cream the richer it will be – but even using all 1% works just fine.
Spiced Pear Bread Pudding with Dulce de Leche
8 large eggs
1 L half & half or heavy cream
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup dulce de leche or pure maple syrup
1 tsp. vanilla
1 large day-or-two-old baguette or other firm loaf, cubed or torn into chunks
1 Tbsp. canola oil 1 Tbsp. butter 2 large ripe but firm pears or apples, cored and sliced 2-3 Tbsp. sugar
dulce de leche and/or ice cream, for serving (optional)
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, cream, brown sugar, dulce de leche and vanilla. Put the bread chunks into a large bowl and pour the egg mixture overtop; stir to coat. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or overnight.
In a large, heavy skillet, heat the oil and butter over medium-high heat. When the foam subsides, saute the pears for 3-4 minutes, or until soft and starting to turn golden. Sprinkle with sugar and cook for another minute or two, until caramelized. Set aside to cool slightly. Preheat the oven to 375˚F.
Butter a 9×13-inch pan or baking dish or spray it with nonstick spray. Pour in the bread mixture and spread the apples overtop, stirring them into the bread mixture slightly. Bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and golden. Serve warm (preferably with ice cream), at room temperature or cold, plain or drizzled with caramel sauce. Serves 10.