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Monday, April 14, 2014

Bourbon Caramel Banana Bread Pudding


Highland Kitchen up the street from us is one of my favorite Boston restaurants. Uh, fried chicken Mondays, anyone? We don't go there that often but when we do, I can't leave without the banana bread pudding. I think it's one of the best desserts I've ever had. So I thought I'd try to make it happen in the comfort of my own home, where I can eat it in a pair of sweatpants with an old, stretched out waist.

This one's got bourbon. Maybe it's because it's Kentucky Derby season or maybe I just love me some bourbon but I'm putting it in food, cocktail glasses...today, in my beer. My brother in law gave us some Bourbon County beer for Christmas with the instruction to wait 6 months until drinking. Well, I made it 4 1/2. It seemed like the appropriate beverage while making this bread pudding. And what a party! I hadn't realized this dark, liquid goodness was 14.9% alcohol. Hooooowee! (Put down the knives and stop chopping, Katie) I got it all into the baking dish without losing any fingertips and only a minor steam burn from the caramel. By all accounts, a success. I highly recommend this dessert and it serves about 10 (how much do you think me and Paddy can polish off tonight after dinner?) so have some people over to help. And all you ladies with bourbon lovin' men (ahem, Rach, Sara...) this will put you in their good graces for a long, long time. 

(Got this from foodnetwork.com)

Caramel
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp salted butter, cut into pieces and at room temperature
1/2 cup heavy cream, warmed
1 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon fresh lemon juice
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Bread Pudding
Salted butter, for the baking dish
1 1b brioche or sweet bread loaf, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
5 large eggs
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
4 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
3 bananas, halved lengthwise and sliced 1/2 inch thick
 
To make the caramel: 
1. Combine the sugar and 1/4 cup water in a medium saucepan over medium heat, stirring just until the sugar dissolves. Cook, gently swirling the pan but not stirring, until amber, about 10 minutes. 
 
2. Remove from the heat and carefully whisk in the butter, heavy cream, bourbon, lemon juice and kosher salt (the mixture will bubble - watch out for the steam!). Pour into a bowl and set aside.

Make the bread pudding: 
3. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F and butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Spread the bread cubes on a rimmed baking sheet and bake until dry and golden, about 20 minutes. Let cool completely.

4. While bread is toasting, whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt in a large bowl, then whisk in the milk, heavy cream and vanilla until smooth. 
 
5. Fold in the toasted bread and the banana slices. Transfer half of the mixture to the prepared baking dish and spread in an even layer. Drizzle with 1/2 cup of the caramel, then top with the remaining bread mixture. 
 
6. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 1 hour or overnight. Cover and refrigerate the remaining caramel until ready to serve.

7. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Bake until golden brown and set, about 1 hour, 15 or 30 minutes. You might want to put a cookie sheet on the lower rack with foil or parchment to catch any drips. I've had some bad luck lately with spill overs and burnt sugar (is a delicious ice cream flavor) is not pleasant in the oven. Warm the remaining caramel and drizzle on top.