Mama, can you make something sweet?
It’s a question I hear a lot around this house. My answer is usually no. Most of my usual cooking isn’t exactly health food, so I try not to make desserts or sweets unless it’s a holiday or special occasion. But I’ve been toying with making this dessert. In fact, I bought the pantry ingredients months ago. So the fact that I knew I had a loaf of nearly dead French bread made me say yes.
Bread pudding certainly isn’t a new thing. It has its origins in the 11th century. Cooks didn’t want to waste any food so they came up with bread pudding as a way to use stale bread. Countries all over the world have bread pudding and each one reflects the ingredients of their region. They aren’t all sweet either. Some add nuts and fruits, but some add savory herbs and bits of meat.
But it all starts with bread. Stale bread. The bread needs to be a little dry so that it can drink in the liquid ingredients and transform into a moist, flavorful concoction that bears little resemblance to the sad bread it started out as.
Traditional New Orleans bread pudding is sweet and often contains raisins (no, thank you). It also usually has a whiskey or rum sauce.
I don’t understand when people say they don’t like sweet desserts. I’ve often heard judges on certain competition cooking shows say things like “Your dessert is just too sweet” or “I like that you made a savory dessert.”
A savory dessert?
It’s dessert, people. It’s supposed to be sweet.
Okay, I get that you don’t want a dessert that’s cloyingly sweet. You don’t want a dessert that’s so rich that you can only have one bite before pushing it away. You don’t want a dessert that’s so sweet that it makes your teeth hurt. But you do want sweet!
This bread pudding is moist and gooey, studded with bits of toffee and melty chunks of butterscotch. The top is crunchy and slightly salty and buttery. And I topped it with a rich, velvety salted caramel sauce.
I mean, not to toot my own horn, but it really is perfect.
Butterscotch Toffee Bread Pudding
- 1 loaf of French bread (6-8 cups of 1-inch bread cubes)
- 1 pint (2 cups) of whipping cream
- 1 pint (2 cups) of milk
- 3 eggs
- 2 teaspoons of vanilla
- 8 ounce bag of Heath toffee bits
- 1 1/2 cups of butterscotch chips
- 1 stick of butter, melted
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the cream, milk, eggs, and vanilla. Add the bread cubes and press down, making sure they are all submerged in the milk mixture. Stir in the toffee bits and butterscotch chips. Let sit for 15-20 minutes
Spray a 9X13 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Pour the bread mixture into the pan and press down slightly. Pour melted butter over the top.
Bake for 1 hour. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Serve warm topped with Salted Caramel Sauce (recipe below)
Salted Caramel Sauce
- 1 cup of white sugar
- 6 tablespoons of salted butter, cut into six pieces
- 1/2 cup of heavy whipping cream
- 1 1/2 teaspoons of salt
Heat the sugar in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon. After about 10 minutes (just when you start to wonder if you’re doing something wrong), the sugar will begin to form clumps. Keep stirring. Within a few minutes, the sugar will melt completely and turn into a beautiful amber-colored syrup. Keep stirring and, for God’s sake, do NOT give in to the temptation to stick your finger in the melted sugar or lick the spoon. You will be badly burned! As soon as the sugar is completely melted, add the butter all at once and stir for 2-3 minutes until it is melted. The mixture may sputter a little bit. It takes a few minutes for the sugar and butter to decide to be friends. When the butter is melted, slowly add the whipping cream. The hot sugar does not like the cold cream and it may spit at you because you’re the one who added it. It may even seem to clump a little. Keep stirring and it will smooth out. Boil for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and add the salt. Don’t taste it yet! Let the mixture cool. It will become very thick. Store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
Well Duh #1: Nowadays it’s rare for most of us to have stale bread laying around, so you’ll have to “stale” it yourself (Yes, I know that “stale” isn’t a verb. Just go with it.). Just cut the bread into 1-inch cubes, spread it onto a baking sheet and let it sit uncovered overnight. Or you can put it into a 300 degree oven for 15-20 minutes. The point is, you really need dry bread for the recipe.
Well Duh #2: I used the Heath bits without the milk chocolate. You can use either one.
Well Duh #3: This would be yummy with a dollop of whipped cream or a scoop of vanilla ice cream.
Well Duh #4: It’s awesome the next day. Just warm a serving in the microwave.
I will definitely make this again. Soon!