Wednesday, October 8, 2008

a new pumpkin treat for thanksgiving - recipe: pumpkin croissant bread pudding with tipsy caramel sauce

Are you interested in serving something other than (or perhaps in addition to) a classic pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving? Try my pumpkin croissant bread pudding with "tipsy" caramel sauce -- guaranteed to make you and your guests swoon.

Traditionally, bread pudding was an economical way to serve dessert -- an easy means to use leftover bread that would otherwise be thrown away.

Torn or cubed bread is soaked in a sweetened egg mixture, accompaniments are added (see below for ideas) and then it is all baked in an oven.

Typically, bread pudding recipes call for stale bread but I've found that using fresh bread is just as good.

Although the original recipe calls for white bread, I've adapted the recipe for croissants.

Egg bread is equally delicious if croissants aren't handy or to your liking.

In addition to pumpkin bread pudding, I've had the pleasure of making (and eating) many other types, including:

• chocolate and dried cherry bread pudding

• apple and rosemary bread pudding

• white chocolate bread pudding

• banana, rum and coconut bread pudding

• vanilla bean and raisin bread pudding

I've also made savoury bread puddings, which are perfect for a casual brunch or lunch with friends. To convert the below recipe into a savoury bread pudding, simply omit the sugar, vanilla, spices and raisins.

In their place, add one cup of crumbled cooked bacon or chopped ham, a cup of caramelized onions and a cup of your favourite grated cheese (I prefer gruyere).

Bake and top with a sprinkling of fresh herbs (and, of course, omit the caramel sauce).

Pumpkin Croissant Bread Pudding with Tipsy Caramel Sauce
recipe adapted from Bon Appetit magazine


  • 1 cup milk
    (skim, 1 per cent, 2 per cent or whole milk -- whatever is on hand)
  • 1 cup 35 per cent heavy cream
  • 1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
  • 1 cup (packed) plus 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon
  • pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon
  • ground cinnamon
  • 1 1/2teaspoon
  • vanilla extract
  • 10 cups of 1/2-inch cubes of croissants (about 10 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup golden raisins (can omit or replace with chopped crystallized ginger)

Tipsy Caramel Sauce


  • 1 1/4 cup (packed) dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/4 cup brandy


  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees Farenheit.
  • Whisk the milk, heavy cream, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Fold in croissant cubes. Stir in golden raisins.
  • Transfer mixture to 11-inch by 7-inch glass baking dish. Let stand 15 minutes.
  • Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into centre comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, prepare the caramel sauce.
  • Melt butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until it is melted.
  • Add brown sugar and whisk in cream and brandy and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about three minutes.
  • Serve pudding warm with caramel sauce drizzled overtop (and whipped cream, if desired).

entertaining idea

Slice the tops off of miniature pumpkins and scoop out the flesh and/or seeds.

Serve the pumpkin bread pudding inside the miniature pumpkins (you can fill the pumpkins with the bread pudding earlier in the day and then reheat them in a 350-degree Farenheit oven for 10-15 minutes before serving).

dana's tip

Make sure that you purchase a can of pure pumpkin, not pumpkin-pie filling (which already has sugar and spices added).

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