This is another dessert from The Pioneer Woman's throwdown with Bobby Flay. I tried it on Thanksgiving Day and we all really loved it and fought over the bowl scrapings of the Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise. I made it again two days later for another Thanksgiving Dinner. It's definitely more complicated than my usual cooking, so it seems like it needs an occasion to warrant making it. Plus, it's impressively rich and one can't just go around eating desserts with nearly a dozen egg yolks, heavy whipping cream and four-ish cups of sugar every day and for no good reason.
I found that nearly every element of this dessert could be made ahead. The pumpkin bread, for instance, could be made several days in advance.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
2 c. heavy cream
1 c. whole milk
1 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
6 large egg yolks
1/2 c. sugar
3 T pure maple syrup
1 c. pumpkin puree (I used butternut squash from the garden)
2 T bourbon
1 loaf pumpkin bread, cubed and toasted
Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise, recipe follows
Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce, recipe follows
Preheat the oven to 325. Combine cream, milk, vanilla bean AND seeds in medium saucepan and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, sugar, maple syrup and pumpkin in a large bowl. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture until combined. Remove the vanilla pod. Add the bourbon and whisk. Here, Bobby says it should be strained into a clean bowl. My butternut puree was pretty smooth. I didn't strain and suffered no ill effects.
Scatter bread cubes in a buttered 9x13 pan and pour custard over all. Press down on the bread to make sure it completely submerges and wait about fifteen minutes before continuing with the recipe to allow time for the bread to soak up all that eggy, creamy goodness.
For best results, put this baking pan into a larger roasting pan and put tap water in the outer pan until the water level is halfway up the sides of the 9x13 pan. Bake about one hour, or until the edges of the pudding are puffy and the middle jiggles only slightly. Remove from oven and water bath and allow to cool at least 30 minutes before serving.
I like to serve it with some of the Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce drizzled fancily onto the dish, then spoon the bread pudding onto that. Finally, top with a generous portion of the delicious Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise.
Spicy Caramel Apple Sauce
1 c. heavy cream
1/2 c. apple juice
1 star anise
A 1-inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
4 whole cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1/8 t. nutmeg
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 c. water
1 T apple cider vinegar
1 T apple schnapps
Combine cream, juice, anise, ginger, cloves, cinnamon sticks and nutmeg in a medium saucepan and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat, but allow to steep for at least 20 minutes while you make the Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise. Strain into a clean bowl.
Combine sugar, water and vinegar in a small saucepan and place over high heat without stirring until it's a deep amber color, about 8 minutes. Slowly whisk in the hot cream mixture a little at a time, whisking until it is smooth. Add the apple schnapps and cook 30 seconds longer. This sauce can be made up to 2 days in advance and refrigerated. Heat through before serving.
Vanilla Bean Creme Anglaise
2 c. half and half
1/2 vanilla bean, seeds scraped
5 large egg yolks
Bring the half and half and vanilla bean and seeds to a simmer in a medium saucepan.
Whisk eggs and sugar together until they reach the pale ribbon stage. This will help to prevent those chunks of cooked egg from appearing when you add the hot cream mixture. Slowly add the hot half and half, whisking constantly. Return to the pot. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon. (Why a wooden spoon? Bobby doesn't say. His specificity without explanation is frustrating.) Allow to thicken until mixture easily coats the spoon.
Remove from heat. Strain into a bowl to remove bean pod and any errant bits of cooked egg. Set bowl over an ice bath and stir until cooled. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour before serving.
Lick the spoon. (That's my generous instruction to you, not Bobby's.)
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