• April 20, 2014

Almond-Bread-Pudding

I have a confession to make. I’ve been holding it in for a little bit. I’m assuming you have been to a doctors office at some point in your life. So you know what I’m referring to when I talk about those magazines lying around the waiting room. You know, the ones you have no idea who’s runny nose hands have been on. The ones that have the addressee ripped out for some reason I’ve never quite understood. The ones that you would probably never pick up if you weren’t really desperate to get your mind off the fact that you’ve been waiting a ridiculously long time for an appointment that you were told to check in 15 minutes early for. Yea, those magazines.

At a routine visit to the doctor not too long ago, I had been waiting for about half an hour inside the doctors office (I was past the waiting room portion thankfully) which had a higher than average pile of magazines. They happened to have an issue of Bon Apetit, the Cooking School Issue, and I fell upon a really drool worthy picture of this luscious, rich and definitely not good for you version of bread pudding. But it wasn’t just you’re usual bread pudding. It was almond bread pudding. And looking at it, it just made me think of those yummy almond croissants that are one of my favorite things in the world, but in a bread pudding form.

So I tore the page out (gasp). I know. I told you I had a confession. I actually even looked around me as I did it even though I was all alone in the doctors office. I quickly stuffed the page into the book I had brought with me (why was I looking through the magazines when I already had a book to keep my attention you ask? Well when you see a yummy cooking magazine you tell me what else you’re supposed to do??) and then I quickly put the magazine at the bottom of the pile and continued to read my book and pretended that’s what I had been doing all along when the doctor finally came in.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would do it all over again. Yep, this recipe was so worth it. But to make myself feel a little bit better, and because I like to think I’m just a nice person, I’m going to spare you the trouble of having to sneak around the magazines at the doctors office and share the recipe with you. You can thank me later.

(In all honesty, I actually didn’t follow the recipe properly. I just came back from the gym when I decided to make this and decided that I would try and make it ever so slightly healthier. So I used stevia and made a sugar free caramel instead. So aside from the store bought challah I used, and the cream, I tried to limit the sugar and carbs.)

Almond Butter
1 cup whole almonds
1 tbsp unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 tsp almond extract (optional, but makes a huge difference)
1/4 tsp salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees (I just used my toaster oven for this portion). Spread out almonds on baking sheet and toast, tossing half way through, 12-15 minutes or until they begin to brown. Let cool. Transfer cooled almonds to food processor, or blender or any equivalent you might have. I used this contraption. Add butter, almond extract and salt and process until mixture is the texture of coarsely ground peanut butter. Although this wasn’t in the recipe, I had to add water to my mixture because it was really crumbly otherwise.

Sugar Free Caramel
1/8 cup brown sugar blend
1/4 cup stevia
2 tbsp butter
1/4 cup water
1 egg yolk
1/2 tsp vanilla

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients. Boil for 1 minute, stirring constantly, and then remove from heat. Let cool.

Pudding
1 3/4 cups heavy cream
3/4 cup 2% milk
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
4 large egg yolks
3 large eggs
3/4 cup stevia
1/4 tsp salt
1 1-lb loaf challah (you won’t need it all)
1/4 cup sliced almonds

Combine heavy cream and milk in a medium saucepan (the recipe actually called for half and half and heavy cream but I just substituted with what I had on hand. I never have half and half). Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean and throw in the whole bean while you’re at it. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat; remove from heat.

Whisk egg yolks, eggs, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot cream into egg mixture. Cover custard with plastic wrap and let stand for 30 minutes for flavors to meld.

Preheat oven to 350. Butter an 8″ cake pan (I used my spring form) and set aside. The recipe tells you to use a biscuit cutter and cut out circles from your slices of bread that are cut into 3/4″ slices and arrange them in this real pretty and organized way, but I didn’t do that. I literally just ripped out pieces of bread from the challah and spread each round with almond butter and smushed them all together to fit in the pan.

Pour custard evenly over bread. I then sprinkled it with some leftover streusel I had from another recipe along with the sliced almonds. Place custard in a large roasting pan, and pour hot water to come halfway up the sides of the pan. Cover roasting pan with foil, tenting slightly if necessary to avoid touching the bread.

Bake pudding until the top no longer jiggles, around 25-30 minutes. Remove foil and increase temperature to 375. Bake until custard is set in the center and top is golden brown and crisp, about 25 minutes longer.

Remove cake pan from roasting pan. Let cool slightly. Dust with powdered sugar (I used stevia). Slice into wedges and serve with drizzled caramel sauce. And freshly whipped cream is never a bad idea either.


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