Bread pudding is not only a stand-out dessert for any holiday table, but true comfort food, especially during the cooler months of the year. Most bread pudding is served warm with a custardy center, which is always a nice contrast to the crunchy top that you can easily break with a spoon. Traditionally, it’s made with cream, milk and eggs, but sometimes it’s fun to play with the flavorings, and use something much more festive, like eggnog.
Eggnog as most of us know it, is a seasonal drink to enjoy at a Christmas gathering, or in front of a roaring fire. It’s rich and creamy consistency makes it truly a splurge worthy beverage, so take it slow and enjoy every sip. Warming spices like nutmeg, always begin to bring you into a holiday mood, and a small dash of cinnamon, adds to the already magnificent cheer.
To start, a good holiday bread pudding begins with a soaking of dried bread cubes, and in this case, in a bath of eggnog because it slightly softens them, before a splash of rum and vanilla, to create a spectacular Santa-fied dessert. The chunks of bread drink up every last bit of custard before the entire dish is baked, until golden brown and puffy, like Chris Kringle’s cheeks at Christmastime. The warm caramel sauce makes this dessert even more special, and I’d watch it closely if I were you, because you might catch a family member sneak a fingerful straight from the serving bowl. I scoop the pudding onto plates, and pour the thickened amber sugar over the top, and wait for it to roll down the sides, just like an erupting volcano. There’s something satisfying about the presentation, and I’m sure this will lift you into the holiday spirit. I know it does for me.
4 cups cubed egg or French bread
2 cups light eggnog or almond nog
3 tablespoons rum
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 teaspoons nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
pinch of salt
splash of rum, optional
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place cubed bread on a sheet pan and toast in oven for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
- In a large bowl, combine eggs, eggnog, rum, vanilla, nutmeg and cinnamon. Whisk until combined.
- Add toasted bread to custard and stir. Allow bread to rest in custard for 20 minutes.
- Pour mixture into a greased 1-quart oven-safe dish. Place on sheet pan and cover with foil. Bake in oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for another 25-30 minutes, or until deep golden brown and puffed on top.
- Remove and dust with powdered sugar immediately. Wait a 5 minutes and dust again.
- In a saucepan, add sugar and 1/4 cup water. Place pan over medium-high heat and cook sugar until deep golden brown (do not stir during cooking) about 4-5 minutes.
- Remove from heat and add cream, whisk until mixture becomes smooth. Add butter, vanilla, salt and more rum, whisk again until creamy. Serve sauce with pudding. Enjoy!