Pecan, Bourbon and Butterscotch Bread Pudding

by smokinchestnut

Whoa to the nelly. This recipe renders me somewhat speechless. First, it’s a DESSERT. I have, like, four desserts on this blog. And while I love a tasty dessert just as much as the next person, I have found in the past year or so that my sweet tooth has dulled considerably. I used to require something sweet to eat after every meal. Now? Give me bacon and leave me alone.

The other problem with making desserts in this house is the number of people that live here. Smash… and me. Polaris doesn’t count because while she would love to help us finish off any dessert I make, she’s the only one who feels that way. That leaves an entire cake/cookies/brownies/cupcakes/BOURBON BREAD PUDDING to ourselves. As it was, I handed over a hefty chunk of this bread pudding to my landlord (with a small container of the butterscotch sauce) because there was just too much for us to finish without despising it in the end (and that would be a SHAME). So she shared it with those she loves and I like to think they loved her in extra portions that day for bringing some of this home.

Because… just… look at it.

It’s a force to behold, a beast to be reckoned with, a power unto itself. Along that same rambling vein, I’d like to nonsensically wax poetic about this dish for a few lines so that thoughts of bourbon-laced butterscotch sauce seep into your very being, just as it seeped through every single serving of this bread pudding. The entire dish is studded with poppy seeds, whose unexpected pop matched perfectly with the pudding’s crunchy top layer and its soft, warm center. And luckily for everyone involved, that salty, buttery, bourbon-y butterscotch sauce yields far more servings than can fit atop each square of bread pudding. So use it wisely, atop pancakes or ice cream (Matthew did this with his favorite lactose-free variety – the sauce keeps for weeks!). Or use it rashly, atop your finger at 8am when no one but your dog can judge you.

Notes: Instead of four cups heavy cream the original recipe called for (gasp, I know, I’ve offended all sorts of bread pudding gods out there but I stand by my decision! and by my lactose intolerant husband), I used two cups of soy milk and one 15-oz. can of full-fat coconut milk and it turned out GREAT.

Pecan, Bourbon and Butterscotch Bread Pudding
lightly adapted from Epicurious
serves 8-10

Butterscotch sauce:
1 cup (packed) light brown sugar
1/2 cup light corn syrup
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 (scant) teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon bourbon (optional)

Pudding:
1 pound day-old artisan white bread, crusts removed if desired, cut into 1/2″ cubes (12 cups)
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 cups sugar
5 large eggs
2 cups soy milk
1 15-oz. can full-fat coconut milk
1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
Pinch of kosher salt
3 tablespoons bourbon
1/2 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 cups pecan pieces

For butterscotch sauce:
Combine brown sugar, corn syrup, butter, and salt to a medium saucepan over medium-high heat and bring to a boil; whisk occasionally to dissolve sugar. Boil until mixture is syrupy and measures 1 1/3 cups (HA! I like that part of the instructions. Like I knew what amount it was going to be, but I followed the timing and made sure it was syrupy and delicious-looking), about 3 minutes. Remove from heat; add cream and bourbon, if desired (HA! another part that made me laugh. As if bourbon would not be desired…), and stir until smooth. Let cool. Can be made ahead; just cool completely, cover and chill. Can rewarm before serving (but I never did).

For pudding:
Toss bread, melted butter, and 2 tablespoons sugar in a large bowl and set aside. Using an electric mixer or Kitchen Aid, beat eggs and remaining 1 1/2 cups sugar in another large bowl until pale yellow and fluffy, roughly 3 minutes. Add soy milk, coconut milk, poppy seeds, and salt; beat to blend. Place bourbon in a small bowl; scrape in seeds from vanilla bean (reserve bean for another use). Whisk to distribute seeds, then add to egg mixture, whisking to blend well. Pour egg mixture over bread mixture in bowl. Add pecans and toss to coat well. Transfer mixture to a 13x9x2″ glass or ceramic baking dish, spreading out in an even layer. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.

Preheat oven to 325°F. Remove plastic wrap and bake until top is browned in spots and a tester inserted into center comes out clean, 1 1/4-1 1/2 hours. Serve bread pudding with butterscotch sauce. Cry upon first bite because it’s one of the best (and successful, personally) desserts you’ve ever made.