It wasn't easy, but I think I have cracked the general code to New Orleans bread pudding: double the cream, double the eggs, and add bourbon. It's a recipe for success!
This pudding, inspired by the highly delicious White Chocolate Bread Pudding at the Palace Cafe, has the soul of a New Orleans bread pudding. But it's gussied up for the season with cranberries, which add a wonderful tart contrast to the white chocolate in the butter and cream-rich custard, and a nice glug of bourbon, which certainly doesn't hurt anything. It's a perfectly decadent entrée into the Thanksgiving season.
- 1 loaf french bread (approx 16 ounces)
- 3 cups (24 ounces) whipping cream
- 1 cup (8 ounces) milk
- 1/2 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 8 ounces white chocolate
- 7 large eggs
- 1 cup (about 3 1/2 ounces) dried cranberries, divided (use fruit sweetened or unsweetened for best results)
- 3 ounces bourbon (optional)
- For the sauce
- 4 ounces white chocolate
- 1 1/2 cups (12 ounces) milk
- Confectioners' sugar, to finish (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease a 9- by 13-inch pan. Set to the side.
Cut the bread into 1-inch cubes.
In a large saucepan, heat the whipping cream, milk, and sugar over medium heat. Dash in the salt and cinnamon. When hot, take off the heat and add the white chocolate pieces; stir until melted.
Lightly beat the eggs in a large bowl. Slowly pour the hot cream mixture into the eggs in a steady stream, whipping the eggs as you pour. If you want, add that glug of bourbon now.
Add the mixture to the bowl with the bread pieces. Add 3/4 cup of the cranberries. Mix until combined. Now, transfer to the greased pan.
Using a spatula press down the bread so everything is absolutely saturated.
Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until set and golden on top. You don't want brown, just lightly golden.
While it bakes, prepare the sauce. Bring the milk to a boil in a small sauce pan. Take off the heat and add white chocolate; stir until smooth and completely melted. It's going to be a fairly liquid sauce.
Pour over the bread pudding right when it comes out of the oven. It may look like an obscene amount of liquid but the bread pudding will absorb it. Dot the top of the pudding with more cranberries, and dust with confectioners' sugar to finish.