In my French family, most of my relatives regard a pumpkin with the inquisitive eyes of a child who, spotting a bright new toy airplane for the first time, picks it up and smiles and then quickly decides he's bored by his own curiosity and goes back to his trusty old puppy. Pumpkins, to them, with their vibrant color and fairytale shape, hold the fascination of the airplane, but they much prefer the tried and true. In order to craftily get them to eat pumpkin on Thanksgiving so I don't have to eat an entire pumpkin pie all by myself, I sneak pumpkin into to something they recognize: brioche bread pudding. This has all the flavor and homemade decadence of a traditional Thanksgiving dessert, but is so unbelievably easy to make that I myself am consistently surprised. Consider it sweet stuffing.
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- Yield:6 to 8
- 2/3 cup milk
- 1 1/3 cups cream
- 4 eggs
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon of pumpkin pie spice
- 1 1/4 cups canned pumpkin puree
- 1 11-ounce loaf of brioche, with most of the crust cut off, cut into 1-inch cubes
In a large bowl, beat together the eggs, and add in the sugar, and whisk to incorporate. Add the milk, cream, vanilla, pumpkin pie spice, and pumpkin, and whisk to combine.
Tumble in the cubes of brioche, and allow to sit for 30 minutes, until most of the custard has been absorbed.
Bake in a buttered casserole dish in a 350°F oven for 45 minutes. Serve with powdered sugar and vanilla ice cream, and if you're feeling decadent, a bit of superfluous cranberry sauce reduced with sugar and water. For the perfect cranberry syrup, boil 1 part cranberry sauce with 1 part water and 1 1/2 parts sugar for 10 minutes, and serve hot alongside.