Wow – that’s quite a mouthful! I promise you, though…this is tasty. Most of my “creations” come about because I need to make something for a potluck, but don’t have time to run to the store. Bread pudding is always an excellent vehicle for whatever you happen to have lying around, and I also happened to have extra challah bread leftovers (recipe to come) that I needed to use! I must say, this isn’t the super-healthy version of bread pudding that I usually make for myself (I think the “whiskey whipped cream” gives that away), but this one is definitely a better version to bring to potlucks. My normal multi-grain-rice milk-add as much fruit and nuts and seeds as I can find in the pantry- bread pudding probably wouldn’t go over quite so well as one with whiskey whipped cream. Yes, I keep repeating those words but this stuff is good. You could probably add it to broccoli (not a huge fan here) and it would make it palatable.
If you don’t find any pears, figs, or ginger lounging around your kitchen waiting to be eaten, feel free to use whatever you might happen to have. Well, anything that would be delicious together – use your discretion. And if challah (a braided egg bread) isn’t to be found, you can use a stale white bread. A note to sweet-lovers: this bread pudding is far from being tooth-achingly sweet, so if that’s your desire, just add some more sugar to the cream mixture.
Pear, Fig, and Ginger Bread Pudding with Whiskey Whipped Cream
½ cup dried figs
½ cup bourbon
1 cup cream
3 cups milk
2 Tbsp. honey, maple syrup, or sugar
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 ½ tsp. vanilla
¼ tsp. nutmeg
8 cups bread cubes
3 pears, cored and chopped
¼ cup finely diced crystallized ginger
1 Tbsp. sugar
½ tsp. cinnamon
1. Preheat oven to 375°F. Butter a 9×13 inch (3 quart) baking pan.
2. De-stem figs and place in a small saucepan with bourbon. Bring to a simmer and simmer for approximately 5 minutes, or until the figs are rehydrated and have absorbed most of the bourbon. Set aside to cool.
3. In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, milk, honey, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg. Add bread cubes and stir until all cubes are coated. If you are using an egg bread, it will absorb the liquid rather quickly (in a few minutes). A stale white bread, on the other hand (depending on how stale it is), will take more time to absorb the mixture. Not all of the liquid has to be absorbed, though – there will be some left so that the bread will bake in a delicious custard.
4. Chop the cooled figs.
5. Once the bread is semi soggy, toss in the ginger, pears, and figs and mix to combine. Pour into the buttered baking pan.
6. Stir together the sugar and cinnamon and sprinkle over the top of the pudding.
7. Slide the pan into the oven and bake for 35-40 min. The pudding should be golden brown and the custardy part should be set. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes before serving.
8. Dollop with a generous spoonful of Whiskey Whipped Cream (recipe follows) and dig in!
Whiskey Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp. whiskey (depending on taste – you might want to start with 1 Tbsp.)
1 Tbsp. sugar (also add more depending on taste)
1. Add all ingredients to a mixing bowl and mix on high speed with an electric mixer until whipped cream has formed.
2. Resist eating by the ladleful before your guests can have some.