Who doesn’t love bread pudding? Creamy, chewy, sweet and warm, bread pudding may be the ultimate in comfort desserts and Chef Gisele Perez, a native of New Orleans, offers us her delight recipe for Bread Pudding with Sautéed Pears.
While many of us think of New Orleans and beignets, Chef Gisele reminds us that Bread Pudding is a traditional New Orleans delicacy. Using stale bread to make a sweet and savory pudding goes back centuries to Europe, but this distinctively Southern-style bread pudding is a dessert New Orleans has embraced as its own and is commonly featured in most restaurants throughout the French Quarter.
Chef Gisele, who moved to Los Angeles as a child, but spent summers in the Big Easy, loves bread pudding, even naming her blog PainPerdu, which means lost bread or French Toast. “Bread pudding is at least as luscious a use for leftover “lost” bread and, in fact, far more common in New Orleans than French toast,” she says. “New Orleanians can be set in their ways – for them bread pudding is made with stale French bread. But I like using other types of breads like croissants, Brioche and even King Cake.”
She tells a story about her dad and bead pudding: “Bread pudding was, by far, my father’s favorite dessert. When I lived in New York, I fell in love with a particular cheesecake there, and thought I would treat my family back in Los Angeles to this special delicacy. So I carried some on the plane to serve at a birthday dinner in honor of my father. When we had finished eating dessert, he had this to say, ‘hmph- it’s not as good as bread pudding.’”
Recipe courtesy of Chef Gisele Perez PainPerduBlog.com
Makes 8 – ½ cup sized servings
Chef’s Note: My grandmother left her bread to soak overnight with plump raisins in the eggy custard. I no longer leave mine to soak overnight, and I have strayed beyond using only French bread (my favorite leftover bread for the pudding is croissant, although Brioche or even leftover King Cake will do very nicely).
5 ounces stale croissants or brioche, cut into small pieces
2 cups half and half
2 egg yolks
4 ounces sugar
1/3 cup golden raisins
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
8 – 4 ounce ramekins, well-buttered
Fill the ramekins loosely with the bread pieces.
Scald the half and half.
Blend together the eggs and sugar. Slowly whisk the scalded cream into the egg/sugar mixture, then pour the mixture evenly into the molds.
Bake until set, about 20 minutes.
Allow the puddings to set before unmolding them. Serve with Sautéed Pears (recipe below)
4-5 small firm pears, peeled and sliced
2 ounces unsalted butter
1/3 cup sugar (vanilla sugar would be a great touch)
1 ounce Lovoka Caramel Liqueur*
1 ounce heavy cream
Put the butter in a large sauté pan over medium heat. When the butter is bubbling, add the pear slices. Do not crowd them. They should be in a single layer which may require sautéeing in two batches. Sauté them until they are slightly softened.
Sprinkle the pear slices with the sugar, and sauté, turning them over gently, until they just begin to brown on the edges. This may require turning up the heat slightly.
Turn the heat off, then add the liqueur or brandy. Ignite the liqueur with a match, and allowing the alcohol to burn off until the flame dies out.
Stir in the cream and allow the liquid to reduce slightly. If the pears have become too soft, remove them with a slotted spoon before reducing the liquid.
* I used Lovoka Caramel Liqueur which is delicious and perfect for pears, but Poire William or plain Brandy would also be great with the pears. If using Brandy or Porie Wiliam, you may increase the sugar slightly, as they are less sweet that the Caramel Liquor.