Bread pudding is my default "go to" dish for potlucks: simple to make with a definite homestyle comforting flair, and it's a fairly adaptable dish that lets me take advantage of what's in season or have on hand. Which is great because I don't care for raisins (featured in most traditional bread puddings), so I throw in all sorts of different things to fill in the void left by that wrinkly fruit. In this instance, I used fragrant ripe pears and crunchy almonds.
Ingredients for pear-almond bread pudding:
1 French baguette, cut into 1/2" to 1" cubes (normally I'd use about 2 cups of stale bread, but didn't have any on hand that day)
2 baking pears (d'Anjou), peeled and thinly sliced
3/4 cup sliced almonds
2 egg yolks (I saved the whites for guilt-free omelet later on)
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. almond extract
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup rum (I used Capt. Morgan Pvt. Stock - if using a non-spiced rum, up the amounts of spices below as appropriate)
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/2 tsp. ground ginger
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
For the spiced pear sauce:
1 stick butter
1/4 cup rum (again, I used Capt. Morgan Pvt. Stock)
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks (again, whites saved)
6 oz. pear baby food (I'm sure pureed pears would work fine here too)
1. Soak pears in the rum in a bowl for about 20-30 minutes.
2. Put the cubed bread in a baking dish; in a separate bowl, combine the eggs, yolks, cream, milk, sugar, spices and extracts, pour the mixture over the bread and let it soak for 10 minutes. Preheat oven to 375F.
3. Pour pear/rum mixture and 1/2 cup of almonds into the dish, hand-tossing to thoroughly combine.
4. Top off with remaining 1/4 cup of almonds and bake in oven for approximately 75 minutes. (covered for first 45)
5. While the bread pudding is baking - use a double-boiler (an actual one, or improvised with a bowl over a pot of simmering water) to melt the butter. A good deal faster if butter is chopped up into slices/cubes.
6. Whisk in the rum, sugar, egg yoks and pear puree/baby food until thoroughly combined.
7. When the bread pudding is done - pour sauce over it and enjoy!
Also great a la mode with vanilla ice cream . . .
This recipe makes about 8-10 servings, so adjust ingredients & baking time proportionally as needed - also the sauce will solidfy if stored in fridge, so reheat when using again.