Mardi Gras Bread Pudding

with Vanilla-Whiskey Sauce

Mardi Gras Bread Pudding

February: Mardi Gras Season

Laissez les bons temps rouler! We “let the good times roll” when Islander’s conference sessions ended for the day in New Orleans, Louisiana (pre-Katrina). In the late afternoons and evenings that week, we wandered around Bourbon and Canal streets and strolled around the French Quarter. We liked listening to live jazz bands while dining on crawfish etoufee, jambalaya and gumbo at one of the many restaurants in town. Highlander drank chicory coffee at Café du Monde. He even tasted fried alligator nuggets in N’awlins! And Islander, with her notorious sweet tooth, enjoyed both the beignets and bread pudding in the Big Easy!

Cajun and New Orleans-inspired foods are prominently featured at Fat Tuesday celebrations outside of Louisiana. For Mardi Gras get-togethers here in South Texas, we usually bake bread pudding and serve the slices with a vanilla-whiskey sauce (and during Lent, we cook capirotada, a Mexican bread pudding).

Before Ash Wednesday, indulge in this Bourbon-infused bread pudding for a merry Mardi Gras. Bon appétit! 

Recipe

(Adapted from San Antonio Taste magazine, Spring 2011)

For the Mardi Gras bread pudding

  • 6 slices cinnamon-raisin bread (we used Cinnabon brand)
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 can (14 ounces) sweetened condensed milk
  • 3 cups milk
  • ½ cup (1 stick) butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (we used a packet of Bourbon vanilla)

Directions

Slice the cinnamon bread into large chunks. Set aside. In a large bowl, beat the eggs with the condensed milk.  Add the bread to the bowl and allow to soak for half an hour.

Mardi Gras Bread Pudding

Pour in the milk, melted butter and vanilla and toss well.  Place into a greased 8x8x2-inch square baking pan.

Mardi Gras Bread Pudding

Place the pan in a larger pan. Make a water bath by filling the larger pan with water about ½-inch up from the smaller pan. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 45 minutes or until set. Remove from the oven and cool in the pan on a wire rack. Cover and refrigerate for at least 6 hours to solidify. Slice cold. The bread pudding may be reheated in the microwave and served with vanilla-whiskey sauce.

Mardi Gras Bread Pudding

For the vanilla-whiskey sauce

(Adapted from About.com – Southern Food)

  • 1 ½ cup sugar
  • 1 ½ cup heavy whipping cream
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2-3 pods cardamom (or ½ teaspoon ground cardamom)
  • 1/8 teaspoon of ground nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ¼ cup whiskey (Bourbon) or brandy
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon vanilla (we used Madagascar Bourbon vanilla extract)

Directions

In a saucepan, mix the sugar with the cream. Add the cinnamon, cardamom and nutmeg. Place the butter in the mixture and bring to a gentle boil, stirring well, until the butter is melted.

Mardi Gras Bread Pudding

In a small bowl or measuring cup, make a slurry by mixing the whiskey with the cornstarch until smooth. Add the vanilla. Pour the slurry into the gently boiling butter mixture. Stir until the sauce is slightly thickened. Remove from the stovetop and cool slightly before generously pouring the sauce on top of a slice of bread pudding. When reheating, the sauce will become more liquified.

Mardi Gras Bread Pudding

Notes

  • Feel free to add ½ cup of raisins to the bread pudding batter before baking.
  • The vanilla-whiskey sauce has a slightly thin, syrupy quality and does not have an overpowering alcoholic taste, which complements the custard-like texture of the bread pudding well.
  • King’s cakes are also popular on Mardi Gras. We made a galette des rois for Epiphany with the same concept of a hidden trinket (representing Baby Jesus) in the king’s cake.
  • Thanks to Lisa L. for the sample packets of Bourbon vanilla from Europe.

Queen of Puddings

Queen of Puddings

May 24: Birth date of Queen Victoria in 1819

We have eaten King’s Cakes for Epiphany and Fat Tuesday before. Now we have tried Queen of Puddings to sample the sweet life of royalty. This particular pudding was created by chefs at Buckingham Palace in Queen Victoria’s honor during the 17th century.  Reminiscent of a bread pudding, the custard-like texture of this dessert is traditionally topped with a royal red raspberry or strawberry jam and crowned with majestic meringue. Queen of Puddings is perfect for princess parties, High Tea, royal or pageant watching, a finale to a formal (or even informal) meal and, especially, Queen Victoria’s birthday.

Recipe

(Adapted from Eating Royally by Darren McGrady)

Ingredients

  • 1 small pound cake (Sara Lee brand)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar (divided use)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla paste
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 small jar (12 ounces) seedless raspberry or strawberry jam or jelly
  • 3 egg whites

Directions

Slice the pound cake into ½-inch cubes. Place in a small but deep dish casserole.

Queen of Puddings

In a large bowl, beat the whole eggs with ½ cup of sugar and vanilla paste until light and frothy. Boil the milk over the stove top, then slowly pour it into the egg mixture, whisking at the same time so the hot milk does not cook the eggs.

Queen of Puddings

Pour the liquid over the pound cake cubes in the casserole to soak. Bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for half an hour to set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Warm the jam or jelly over the stovetop until smooth. Spread over the baked pound cake pudding. Let set.

Queen of Puddings

Make a meringue with the egg whites and remaining sugar. Beat the egg whites until stiff. Gradually add the sugar. Fill a pastry bag and pipe decorative designs on top of the jam or jelly (some cover it completely in meringue but we chose to expose the regal red color beneath by making criss-crosses). Return the pudding to the oven and bake for about 10 minutes more or until the meringue begins to brown. Remove from the oven and serve hot.

Queen of Puddings

Notes

  • The original recipe calls for four egg whites but three were sufficient. Separate the eggs and leave the whites at room temperature to give a higher rise when beating the meringue. We have also tried ½ – ¾ cup of pasteurized or liquid egg whites (such as All Whites brand) with ½ tablespoon of meringue powder to stabilize it. Although it did not give as high a rise as real egg whites, the meringue was still fine to use as a topping.
  • This is a sweet dessert, so we cut down the original recipe’s sugar by ½ cup. Also, feel free to use a sugar-free or low sugar jam or jelly to reduce the cloying taste.
  • If desired, sprinkle ¼ cup blanched or sliced almond on top of the meringue before baking.
  • This is a very easy dessert to make. For individual servings, prepare the pudding in mini ramekins.
  • Look for other royal recipes on our blog to inspire menu ideas for luxurious meals.

Capirotada

Capirotada

April: Lent

Now that we live in Texas, we are fortunate to be able to sample some of the most special South-of-the-Border Catholic cultural cuisine during holy days. Latino ingredients are abundant and readily available at local grocers for us to try cooking a meaningful Mexican meal.  For Lent, we learned how to make a traditional bread pudding called capirotada.  Our Tex-Mex friends explained to us that the bread represents the body of Jesus Christ; the syrup is His precious blood; the cinnamon sticks are the wood of the cross; the raisins are our sins and the nails of the crucifixion; and the cheese symbolizes the church that binds all of the faithful together. Capirotada exemplifies edible evangelism at its best!

Recipe

(Inspired by Gregorio y Sylvia P. and adapted from HEB)

Ingredients

  • 4 bolillos (white or wheat rolls) or 1 large loaf of French bread
  • ½ cup butter or margarine
  • 5 cups water
  • 3 sticks cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon anise seeds
  • 3 cones piloncillo (or 1 ½ cups brown sugar)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla (we used Mexican vainilla)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese (we used Mexican blend of shredded cheeses, such as Sargento brand Classic 4 Cheese Mexican)

Directions

Slice the bread and butter them. Toast in the oven at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Remove from the oven and cut the sliced, buttered bread in to 2-inch pieces. Arrange them in a large casserole or baking pan.

Capirotada

Make a syrup by boiling the water with cinnamon, anise seeds, piloncillo/brown sugar and vanilla for 30 minutes, mixing well to dissolve the piloncillo/brown sugar.  Strain the residue and retain the liquid. Sprinkle half the raisins on top of the bread.

Capirotada

Sprinkle one cup of the shredded cheese on top of the bread. Ladle the syrup over the bread until it is half soaked. Sprinkle with the remaining raisins and cheese. Ladle more syrup until it is well absorbed in the bread mixture. Cover with foil and bake in a preheated oven at 350 degrees F for 40-45 minutes. Remove from the oven. Decorate the top with cinnamon sticks in the form of a cross (optional). Capirotada may be served warm or cold.

Capirotada

Notes

  • Sprinkle a cup of chopped pecans in the mix before baking to add a crunchy texture to the dish.
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