LOUISIANA BREAD PUDDING WITH WHISKEY SAUCE (for eight to ten)
For the Irish whiskey sauce:
1-1/4 cups whole milk
½ split vanilla bean, seeds scraped
4 large egg yolks
2-1/2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
For the bread pudding:
¾ cup raisins
1/3 cup Irish whiskey, such as Jameson
1 pound Pullman style brioche, challah or white bread, cut into ½ inch cubes
¾ cup sliced almonds
¾ cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
4 large eggs
1 large egg yolk
2-1/2 cups whole milk
2-1/2 cups heavy cream
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
¾ teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
¼ teaspoon kosher salt
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, plus extra for greasing the pan
1.Make the sauce: Fill a medium bowl with ice water. In a small saucepan, heat the milk with the vanilla bean and seeds until it just comes to a simmer. Discard the vanilla bean.
2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar and salt until the mixture is pale yellow and thickened. Whisking constantly, drizzle in the hot milk. Pour the mixture into a clean saucepan and cook over moderately low heat, stirring occasionally, until the sauce thickens and coats the back of a spoon. Strain the custard through a fine sieve into a medium bowl and set the bowl in the ice bath until cold. Cover and refrigerate the sauce.
3. Make the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 350*. In a small bowl, combine the raisins and whiskey and let stand for 30 minutes. Drain, reserving the whiskey.
4. Meanwhile, on a large rimmed baking sheet. Spread the bread cubes in an even layer. Toast the bread for about 5 minutes, until lightly golden. On another baking sheet, spread the almonds in an even layer and toast for 3 to 4 minutes, until lightly golden. Reduce the oven temperature to 325*.
5. Grease a 13 by 9 inch glass baking dish. In a small bowl, stir 2 tablespoons of the sugar with the cinnamon. In a large bowl, whisk the whole eggs with the egg yolk and the remaining ¾ cup of sugar until well blended. Whisk in the milk, cream, almonds, raisins, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Add three fourths of the bread cubes, stirring to moisten. Let stand for 5 minutes, then pour the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish. Scatter the remaining bread cubes on top, pressing down gently. Brush the bread cubes with the melted butter, then sprinkle the cinnamon sugar on top.
6. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, until the top is a deep golden and the custard is set. Transfer the bread pudding to a rack to cool for 30 minutes.
7. Stir 1 to 2 tablespoons of the reserved soaking whiskey into the sauce and serve with the warm bread pudding.
NOTE: The sauce (without the whiskey) can be refrigerated overnight.
from Andrew Zimmern, Food and Wine Magazine, January, 2013