No Fail Creole Style Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce

Today I was asked for the basic bread pudding recipe I make, so I figured it best if I simply shared the recipe with everyone. As I’ve said before, I make a lot of bread pudding in the cafe and I have several variations to keep the customers excited, but this recipe is for simple, straightforward New Orleans bread pudding with whiskey cream sauce. Feel free to experiment with ingredients. Sometimes I leave out the raisins and instead use dried cranberries and sliced almonds. Sometimes I use blueberries and some orange marmalade. I’ve been known to make banana pecan and at times, coffee-chocolate, but the basic recipe remains the same.

 

 

 

  • 1 loaf French bread or 12 large croissants, cubed
  • 1 quart half & half
  • 3 eggs, beaten
  • 2 cups brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 cup of raisins
  • 3 tbsp melted butter

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs with the half & half. Add the bread and fold to combine ingredients, then add the brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and raisins. Mix well. Coat a 9″x13″ glass baking dish with PAM. Pour the bread pudding mixture into the dish and drizzle the top with the melted butter. Bake for about 40 minutes, or until the center is set but still moist. If bread starts to get too brown, cover loosely with aluminum foil.

Whiskey Cream Sauce

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 stick butter
  • 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream (whipping cream)
  • 1/4 cup quality bourbon (or rum)

Mix the butter and sugar in a double-boiler until very hot and sugar is well dissolved. In your left hand (or right if you’re left handed), slowly pour the egg and cream into the butter/sugar mixture while whisking very fast with your opposite hand. This is essentially a quicker way to “temper” the eggs so they don’t curdle. Remove from the heat and let cool completely. Mixture will slightly thicken as it cools. Just before serving, whisk in the bourbon (or rum).

To serve, plate up the bread pudding and drizzle with the whiskey sauce.

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Pumpkin Pecan Bread Pudding

One thing my customers are always saying is that I make some of the best bread pudding they’ve ever eaten. I have several variations on bread pudding and try to make a pan about once a week. Blueberry, chocolate, orange-cranberry, traditional… I make whatever based on what I’ve got in the coolers and pantry.

Recently we had some croissants that were turning stale and I needed to use them. Since I’m not a true “baker”, I’ll usually look online for a recipe idea and then take off on it, because I hate following a recipe. This recipe started the same way, but because I’ve had a bumper crop of pecans from the home tree this year, I’m also looking at ways to use them in my fall cooking. This recipe can be made as a dessert or as a breakfast/brunch bread pudding. If you’re making it for the later, simply mix it up and refrigerate overnight, then bake off when you wake up.

 

  • 10 cups cubed, day-old croissants (about 5 large croissants)
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups pure canned pumpkin
  • 2 tsp pumpkin pie spice
  • 3 cups half & half
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 1/2 cups toasted pecans

In a large mixing bowl, lightly beat the eggs, sugars, salt and vanilla extract. Fold in the pumpkin, then add the half & half and milk. Add the cubed croissants and toss well to incorporate. The mixture should be slightly soupy and if needed, add a little more milk.

Pour mixture into a greased 9″x13″ glass baking dish. Top with pecan halves. Bake at 350 for approximately an hour, or until a knife inserted into the center comes out with no liquid on it. Cool on a wire rack. Best served warm but not hot! (If the pecans start to get too brown during baking, cover lightly with aluminum foil)

For a breakfast/brunch serving, simply top with pure maple syrup. If you’re serving as a dessert, mix 1 box of powdered sugar with 1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice and top by dipping a wire whisk into the sugar glaze and lightly shaking it over the surface.

Bourbon Pecan Pie

Here’s my recipe for a true Southern style pecan pie. The bourbon is optional, but it really brings out the flavor in this pie. Give it a try if you love pecans!

 

  • 6 tbsp unsalted sweet cream butter, softened
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 3/4 cup dark brown corn syrup
  • 1 tbsp Wild Turkey or Jack Daniels (or whatever you’ve got around the house)
  • 2 cups pecan halves or pieces, divided
  • 1 9″ unbaked pie shell

Cream the butter and the sugar until light and fluffy. Add the eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Then add the vanilla extract, salt, corn syrup and bourbon.

Arrange half the pecans on the bottom of the unbaked pie shell. Pour the batter over the pecans and top with the remaining pecans. Bake in a 350F oven for about 1 hour.

Be careful to watch the pie as it bakes. If the pecans begin to get too brown, lightly cover the pie with aluminum foil.

 

 

Orange Cinnamon Rolls

If you can’t tell from my posts, I’ve been on a sweet kick lately. I guess that happens after you pass 40. This is a really simple recipe for making “almost homemade” cinnamon rolls. I love orange cinnamon rolls so I added orange zest to the rolls and orange juice to the icing, but if you prefer a more traditional cinnamon roll, leave the zest out of the roll and replace the orange juice in the icing with milk. The hardest part of making these is finding the frozen bread dough. You’ll have to check a real grocery store; I don’t think Walmart has frozen bread dough but I could be wrong.

 

Roll dough:

  • 1 1# loaf frozen bread dough, thawed
  • 1/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp grated orange zest
  • 1 tsp cinnamon

Icing:

  • 1 cup confectioner’s sugar
  • 1 tbsp butter, softened
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 2-3 tbsp fresh squeezed orange juice

On a lightly floured surface, roll dough into a 14-in. square. Spread butter over dough. In a small bowl, combine the pecans, sugar, brown sugar, orange peel and cinnamon. Sprinkle over dough.

Roll up jelly-roll style; pinch seams to seal. Cut into 1/2-in. slices. Place cut side down in two greased 9-in. round baking pans. Cover and let rise in a warm place until doubled, about 40 minutes.

Bake at 350° for 14-16 minutes or until golden brown. Combine the confectioners’ sugar, butter, vanilla and enough orange juice to achieve desired consistency; drizzle over warm rolls. Yield: about 2 dozen.

Glorious Morning Scratch Muffins

 

For the past few years, we have served a variety of fresh baked muffins at work and my customers have grown accustomed to a nice hot muffin. Like many foodservice establishments, we cheated. Our muffins were fresh baked, but not fresh made. We bought muffin batter that you “scooped and baked” to save time (and labor costs). Customers loved them, so it was a win-win situation.

Things changed when I switched companies recently. I had the same customers looking for their usual breakfast muffins, but our new grocery supplier offered a “less than favorable” alternative for muffin batter. My customers have not been happy, so I promised them I would make some scratch muffin batter this weekend to serve this coming week in the cafe.

Since baking is not my thing (I love to cook but I DESPISE following recipes), I had to scour magazines and internet recipes to try and find something I felt was comparable to what my customers are expecting tomorrow morning. This recipe is a tweak; I started with a basic muffin recipe and made it my own. They turned out delicious, so I thought I’d share with you this extremely easy recipe for making homemade muffins. You can use this recipe for for a variety of muffins by substituting the flavorful ingredients. In fact, I used the basic part of this recipe (as noted below) to create 5 varieties of muffins for breakfast tomorrow (Glorious Morning, Chocolate Chip, Blueberry, Banana Nut and Cranberry-Orange-Almond). I’m sharing the whole recipe for the Glorious Morning muffins which are by far my biggest seller, but noting where you can substitute to make other varieties.

There’s no need to buy muffin mix in a bag or box when most all these ingredients can be found in most of your pantries! Give them a shot! The good thing is, you can mix them up on Friday evening and refrigerate the batter. Then scoop into your muffin tins and bake Saturday morning!

Basic Muffin Batter:

  • 1 8oz container of sour cream
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon

In the bowl of a mixer, combine the sour cream, eggs, sugar and vanilla and mix for 30 seconds. In a mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, soda and cinnamon and mix to incorporate (I use a wire whisk to mix dry ingredients). Add the dry ingredients to the wet in the mixer and run on low just long enough to incorporate into a batter. That’s your basic muffin mix.

For Glorious Morning Muffins:

To the batter add 1 peeled and diced Granny Smith apple, 1/4 cup minced carrots (I use shredded carrots and pulse them in the food processor), 1 tbsp orange marmalade, 1/4 cup shredded coconut, 1/2 cup chopped pecans or almonds, 1/2 cup raisins or dried cranberries

If you wanted to make blueberry, to the batter add some fresh or thawed, frozen blueberries and add the orange marmalade.

For cranberry-orange-almond, use dried cranberries, sliced almonds and orange marmalade.

For banana nut, I use crushed pecans and 2 overly ripe bananas, smashed up with your hands or run through the food processor.

For chocolate chip, just add chocolate chip morsels straight from the bag.

Scoop muffin mix into a 12 muffin tin pan or 6 jumbo muffin pan. Bake at 325F for 18-25 minutes (depending on the size, less time for smaller muffins, more for larger) or until brown and a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

Caramel Apple Crisp

A couple of weeks back, my sweet tooth kicked in late one night, so I went in search of something to make. I found some really fresh Granny Smith apples, so I decided to whip up a “crisp”. A crisp is like a cobbler; the difference is the top. You could easily make this a cobbler by topping with a dough crust.

  • 5 ripe Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup water

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a mixing bowl, toss all above ingredients and mix well. Spread evenly into an 8″x8″ glass baking dish.

CRUMBLE:

  • 1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1 cup quick oats
  • 1 cup butter, softened

Mix together ingredients in a small bowl and top the apple mixture with the crumble.

CARAMEL SAUCE:

  • 1 14oz packaged of individually wrapped caramel candies, unwrapped
  • 1 5oz can evaporated milk

Combine caramel candies and milk in a heavy saucepan over low heat, stirring frequently, until the mixture has a smooth consistency. Spoon the mixture over the crumble top of the crisp and bake in preheated oven for about 45 minutes, until the apple mixture is bubbling and the top is golden brown.

Serve with a scoop of French Vanilla ice cream!

Pistachio Ambrosia Salad

Down south, congealed fruit salads are a big thing. Every church social, potluck or holiday meal includes a version of this tasty treat. Each family has their own recipe and each recipe has its own name, but they are all similar and usually contain the following or variations: pudding, Jello, fruit, nuts, KoolWhip, etc. Some have cream cheese, some don’t. In my family, my sister-in-law makes a version she calls “FLUFF”.

The recipe I use came from the “Ask Heloise” section of the newspaper. It’s tasty, sinful and especially refreshing on a hot summer’s afternoon. Considering the high in Birmingham was 106F today, I needed something refreshing, so I whipped up a bowl of this wonderful salad, and thought I’d share this “tried and true” recipe with you.

  • 1 can crushed pineapple in juice
  • 1 can chunk pineapple in juice, or substitute with 1 chopped fresh, really ripe pineapple (I usually have a pineapple around the house, because it’s my favorite fruit, so that’s what I used)
  • 1 cup nuts (I used pecans)
  • 1 cup shredded coconut
  • 1 cup mini marshmallows
  • 1 small box instant pistachio pudding
  • 16oz soft KoolWhip

If using a fresh pineapple, here’s a secret test to see how ripe your fruit is. Try pulling out one of the green leaves atop the pineapple. A pineapple at the perfect stage of ripeness will give up a leaf with little pressure. It should also be a yellow color on the outside and not green between the scales.

In a medium bowl, add the crushed pineapple and chunks with their juice. Sprinkle the pistachio pudding over the pineapple, stir and let it sit for a minute or two. Next add the nuts, coconut and marshmallows and combine. Fold in the softened KoolWhip.

Refrigerate, covered, for at least an hour before serving. How easy is that??? 🙂

Peaches & Cream Pie

Nothing screams summer in the south like fresh picked peaches, and I heard today the peach crop has already matured because of our mild winter. Everyone knows how to make a peach cobbler, the standard peach dessert, but here’s a recipe for a delicious cold dessert that’s perfect on a hot summer’s day. It’s also an easy one, requiring no oven time (great for those of us with hot 50’s Ranch homes featuring 8′ ceilings). You can substitute canned peaches if you’d like, or if peaches aren’t readily available in your area, but nothing beats a ripe, juicy peach!

  • 1 deep dish 9″ graham cracker crust (you can make your own, but a store bought one is just fine)
  • 3/4 cup boiling water
  • 1 3oz package of peach flavored Jell-O
  • 2 cups ice cubes
  • 1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip
  • 2 cups fresh peeled and chopped peaches

In a mixing bowl, empty the peach Jell-O and pour in the boiling water. Stir until Jell-O has completely dissolved, then add the ice cubes and stir until the mixture begins to thicken. Remove any unmelted ice cubes, then fold in the Cool Whip. Put mixture in the refrigerator for about 15 minutes to chill and start to set up. You want it to be the consistency where you can spoon it into the crust, not pour it in.

One the Jell-O mixture has cooled and began to set, mix in the fresh peaches, fill the graham cracker crust and refrigerate the pie for at least 3 hours before serving. Slice and enjoy!

If you have a lot of peaches, you can make several pies and freeze them. To serve, remove a pie from the freezer and allow the pie to soften overnight in the refrigerator before slicing.

Redneck Cobbler

This recipe is so simple, I almost feel bad for sharing it, but it was so delicious and so ridiculously simple, I thought why not share it with everyone. Cobblers are made all over the south. They are a great way to use up ripe fruit from the trees in your yard, or fruit sold out of pickup trucks and car trunks on the side of the road all over the south come summer. Everyone loves a cobbler and this is probably the easiest cobbler I’ve ever made that tasted like a homemade dessert. Sure, you can open a couple of cans of fruit pie filling and throw on a pre-made cobbler crust, but this recipe actually tastes homemade. Give it a shot and you’re sure to impress your family and friends!

  • 2 pounds of fresh fruit (your choice of fruits including peaches, pineapple, strawberries, blueberries, blackberries, etc) OR you can purchase a 2 pound bag of frozen fruit from the grocery store if making out of season
  • 1 cup dark brown sugar
  • 1 box Duncan Hines BUTTER recipe yellow cake mix
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
  • Sliced Almonds or Pecans (optional)

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a heavy bottom saucepan, cook the fruit and brown sugar until hot and bubbly. Pour fruit into a greased casserole dish (I use a deep dish Corningware French White lasagna casserole, about 3″-4″ deep so it won’t bubble out when baking). If you want to add nuts, sprinkle them liberally over the top of the fruit.

Open the butter cake mix and pour over the top of the fruit. Don’t mix up the mix, use the mix in its dry form straight from the box. Melt the butter in a glass measuring cup and pour over the top of the cake mix, covering as much of the surface with the butter as possible.

Bake for 30-40 minutes, until bubbly and golden brown.

If you really want a rich version of this recipe, use 3 sticks of butter instead of 2. It’s delicious, but will surely clog your arteries. We’d call the 3 stick version the Paula Dean Redneck Cobbler!

 

Chocolate Roulage

Every so often my 40yo sweet tooth with kick in and I’ll start craving a decadent treat. Growing up in Alabama, it was always a treat to eat at Cobb Lane and get chocolate roulage for dessert. The whole “jelly roll” concept always appealed to me; even the Little Debbie Swiss roll was a childhood favorite.

Chocolate roulage looks hard to make; most people see this dessert and think there’s no way they can pull this off, but it’s really quite simple. The cake is basically a sponge cake. It’s baked on a “jelly roll” pan but I’ve never owned one personally. I simply use a sheet pan. The trick is to cover the baked cake with a cold, wet towel until the cake is completely cool. This keeps the cake moist and allows you to roll it up without it breaking, but I’ve eaten “broken” roulage in some of Birmingham’s finest restaurants, so if yours breaks, don’t worry about it. Some sifted powered sugar will cover any mistakes!

  • 5 large eggs at room temperature, separated
  • 1 cup sugar, divided
  • 6oz dark, semi sweet chocolate melted with 3 tbsp water
  • Dark cocoa
  • 1 cup whipping cream
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

Beat the egg yolks thoroughly; add 3/4 cup of sugar to the yolks and continue to beat until thick. Blend the cooled melted chocolate with the egg yolks, then fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

Butter a sheet pan or jelly roll pan. Line pan with wax or parchment paper and butter the paper. Spread cake mixture evenly on the buttered paper and bake at 325F for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 300F and bake 5 minutes more. Remove from the oven, cover the cake with a cold, wet towel and let cool completely.

When ready to serve, carefully remove the towel and loosen the cake from the paper. Sift cocoa all over the cake, then turn the cake onto a fresh sheet of waxed or parchment paper. Peel off the old paper. Whip the cream with the vanilla and remaining 1/4 cup of sugar and spread liberally over the cake. Roll the cake lengthwise. Dust the top with more cocoa or with powered sugar. Slice to serve.

Cake can also be frozen once the whipped cream is added and the cake is rolled up. This will make the cake easier to slice with a more “set” filling.