Friday, September 12, 2014

Banana Bread Pudding with Caramel Bourbon Sauce

I've been away from my blog for too long. I've really missed sharing recipes with all of you, but I do have a good excuse: I've been planning a wedding. My wedding. A happy occasion and life-changing event. The big event is sort of the subject of today's post: love and commitment. For many of you, food equals love. I'll bet you guys have some great memories of meals cooked at home by a parent or spouse, served with a smile and very clearly prepared out of love. This stunning dessert requires several elements to come together to really make it shine. As the saying goes, the sum is greater than its parts. It takes work and the harmonious blending of ingredients and effort. Hmm...this is starting to sound familiar. ;)

The dense and moist consistency of banana bread, even stale banana bread softens the puddings and makes them more custard-y, as well as adding a depth of flavor from the cinnamon baked right in. Fabulously sweet and starchy bananas are a great compliment to the buttery caramel sauce. A slightly sweeter whisky, bourbon just completes the flavor profile and makes the pudding reminiscent of Southern bread puddings, which have a wonderful, whiskey-heavy sauce.

I made my own banana bread a couple of days before making my bread pudding, but you can absolutely use store bought.* Actually, I should say puddings, as I used a set of silicone baking cups to make individual versions. If you'd rather make one big version just use a 9 x 13" pan and lay the banana bread cubes in a single layer, the banana slices over top in a single layer, then another layer of cubes and just spread the egg mixture as evenly as possible over everything. An optional topping,  no matter how you bake it, is toasted walnuts. 

Banana Bread Pudding

1 loaf banana bread (from a standard 5 x 9" loaf pan), sliced 1" thick
2 large bananas, sliced thinly
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup half n half
1 Tablespoon sugar
1 Tablespoon brown sugar
1/2 Teaspoon cinnamon

1. Preheat the oven to 200 degrees and toast sliced banana bread in the oven for about 25 minutes to make it stale. Cut the toast into cubes.
2. Turn the oven up to 350. Mix all ingredients except for the bananas and banana bread in a medium bowl. Assemble puddings: in each greased baking cup place a layer of bread cubes, packed as tightly as possible. Top with a layer of banana slices and then another layer of tightly packed banana bread cubes. Pour egg mixture over the top layer of bread and fill the cup up with the egg mixture up to about 1/4" below the top.
3. Bake assembled puddings until set, approximately 20 - 25 minutes. Pop out of baking cups and serve, drizzled with caramel.

Caramel Bourbon Sauce

1 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup half n half
4 Tablespoons salted butter
1 Tablespoon honey Bourbon
2 Tablespoons Bourbon

1. In a medium saucepan over medium low heat, melt butter. 
2. Whisk in half n half and sugar and cook for about 7 minutes, whisking gently the entire time.
3. Whisk in alcohol and cook while whisking another 3 minutes. Allow to cool somewhat before drizzling over puddings. The sauce is also great over ice cream. 

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and I welcome your feedback!

*I used Joy the Baker's recipe for Brown Butter Banana Bread, slightly tweaked (less sugar, and since I didn't have molasses, but I did have brown sugar, I added some of that in the molasses' stead) to account for the sugar in the custard:

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