Friday, March 11, 2011

New Orleans-Style Bread Pudding With Whiskey Sauce

Happy belated Mardi Gras, everyone! I was planning to make New Orleans-themed foods for Fat Tuesday  this year -- gumbo, jambalaya, king cake, beignets, etc. -- but work this week has been all kinds of hectic, and I was too tired to cook anything but leftovers in the microwave. Now that Mardi Gras is over, and St. Patty's Day is around the corner, I was sort of thinking that this recipe could kind of represent both occasions, since bread pudding and whiskey are traditional Irish foods, and Emeril Lagasse tells me this pudding is "New Orleans-style," whatever that means. 

Bread pudding is one of those wonderful, mysterious foods that  I didn't discover until fairly recently. I'd seen it on menus and in display cases at various cafes, but nothing about the name or appearance enticed me to try it. Then Karen and I decided to have dinner at the Circle Bistro before our annual date to see the Nutcracker, and chocolate bread pudding was the dessert offering for the prix fixe meal we both ordered. One bite, and I was in love. The pudding was dense and rich and succulent, like an extra moist chocolate cake. From that day on, I was sold on bread pudding because I figured if chocolate bread pudding tasted this good, how bad could the other variations be?

Bread pudding really doesn't look very appetizing when it's being made, does it? After all, it's just soggy bread sitting in a pool of cream. But it smells fantastic, even before going in the oven. Sweet and cinnamon-y, with the heady scent of French bread. And after it's baked? Then drizzled with boozy cream sauce? We've got the makings of a nose-gasm, folks.

I didn't use as much brown sugar in the pudding as the recipe called for, and I wish I had. The bread pudding is good, but it would be even better if were just a little sweeter. Dan thought it tasted fine and polished off two bowlfuls, but I've got more of a sweet tooth than he does, and I'm the one doing the baking so next time...more sugar! 

Recipe can be found here, courtesy of Emeril Lagasse and the Food Network.

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