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Brownie Bread Pudding

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Leftover brownies? Whoever heard of such a thing? They may not exist in most homes, but restaurants like the Loveless Cafe in Nashville might have a few left at the end of a busy day. That’s one thing Alisa Huntsman had in mind when she created this easy recipe.

But the idea stemmed from a different need, she writes:

“Catering requests … invariably include chocolate bread pudding. The problem with adding chocolate to the kind of thin custard used for bread pudding is that the ingredients often separate into layers, with the chocolate settling at the bottom and a paler, less flavorful custard migrating to the top. Usual remedies for this are time-consuming, so we use some leftover but perfectly good brownies as the base instead. They sop up the vanilla custard and result is the perfect chocolate ‘bread’ pudding.”

Brownie Bread Pudding

Day-old double-chocolate fudge  brownies
5 eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
Drunken Caramel Sauce (recipe follows)
Vanilla ice cream (optional)

Crumble the day-old brownies into a shallow bowl and let sit out overnight, uncovered, to dry out a bit. If the brownies are stale already, you may be able to skip this step.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 7-by-11-inch baking dish and spread the crumbled brownies evenly over the bottom. In a mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the sugar until blended. Mix in the half-and-half and vanilla. Pour over the brownies, cover with foil, and let stand for 15 to 20 minutes to give the brownie crumbs time to absorb the custard.

Bake the foil-covered brownies for about 1 hour, until the custard is set. Remove from the oven and led stand for about 15 minutes. Cut the pudding into 8 pieces and serve warm with a drizzle of the caramel sauce and a scoop of vanilla ice cream, if you wish.

Makes 6 servings.

Drunken Caramel Sauce

1/3 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 small cinnamon stick
1 inch of vanilla bean, split lengthwise in half
1 cup sugar
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/4 cup bourbon, whiskey or dark rum

In a small saucepan, combine the cream, butter and cinnamon stick. Scrape the seeds from the vanilla bean into the pan using the tip of a knife and toss in the pot. Set over low heat to warm the cream, melt the butter and infuse the flavors, about 3 minutes.

In a separate deep saucepan, combine the sugar, corn syrup and 1/4 cup water. Bring to a boil over medium-low heat, stirring to melt the sugar. Using a moist brush, wash any sugar crystals off the sides of the pan. Continue to whisk until all the caramel is dissolved. Stir in the bourbon, remove the vanilla pod, and let the sauce cool to room temperature before serving.

Makes about 1 1/4 cups.

From “Desserts from the Famous Loveless Cafe: Simple Southern Pies, Puddings, Cakes, and Cobblers from Nashville’s Landmark Restaurant” by Alisa Huntsman

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