~ Sour Cherry and White Chocolate Bread Pudding ~
If you are an avid cook and/or baker, you too would be celebrating if you were me, because you know how special these cherries are to a foodie. My husband presented me with 58 pounds of sour cherries, which he picked from our backyard cherry tree over the past weekend!
Besides a couple of my ~ I can't Lie, this is Real Sour Cherry Pies ~ (recipe in Category 6), and, a big batch of ~ 'Tis True: Sour Cherries Do Make the Best Jam ~ (recipe in Categories 8, 9 & 22), I dried a few pounds of them too!
A bit about bread pudding: Sweet bread pudding is officially classified as a bread-based, baked dessert made with cubes or slices of bread that get saturated with a custardlike mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and spices. Every cuisine has a version because it is the invention of frugal cooks who wanted to find a use for leftover or stale bread!
Almost any type of bread can be used to make bread pudding (as long as it is 2-3 days old) including: French-style baguettes, rustic Italian loaves, and, even quick breads, like banana bread. That being said, my favorite is brioche (pictured in the above two photos), and you can find my recipe ~ Bread Machine Basics & My Brioche Recipe ~ in Categories 5, 15 & 18.
Bread pudding, which is quick and easy to make, can be assembled and baked in any type of appropriately sized, 2-inch deep caserole dish (square, rectangular, round, oval, etc.), or, in individual ramekins. Even though bread pudding is immediately associated with dessert, knowing how to make savory bread pudding as well, is a creative cook's best kept secret:
It is as versatile as quiche and can contain all sorts of meats, cheeses and vegetables ranging from asparagus to zucchini. Pictured here is my recipe for ~ English Muffin, Sweet Sausage, Eggs & Cheese: My Super-Simple, Make Ahead Breakfast Casserole ~. Assembly begins with a mixture of cubed English muffins and ends being drenched in a mixture of milk, eggs, nutmeg, salt and pepper. Technically, this is a savory bread pudding, and, you can find the recipe in Categories 9, 18 or 20!
Bread pudding is so easy, you "almost" don't need a recipe!
Today, I'm using fresh, pitted sour cherries in conjuction with dried sour cherries + some white 'chocolate' chips and toasted almonds too, to make one of my favorite bread pudding recipes:
4 tablespoons wild cherry brandy for 30-45 minutes. Plus:
1/2 cup dried sour cherries
1/2 cup white 'chocolate' chips
1/2 cup lightly-toasted almonds
This recipe is the perfect use for leftover brioche and for this recipe, you'll need between 16-20 ounces (1-1 1/4 pounds), or, half of a 2-pound loaf, sliced into 1/2" cubes. The bread must be 2-3 days old.
~ Step 2. Pit and macerate the cherries in the brandy for 30-45 minutes. Lightly toast the almonds in a 350 degree oven about 8-10 minutes, then cool to room temperature.
Cube the bread as directed and pictured above and place about 3/4 cup of cubes in the bottom of each prepared ramekin.
Note: Because the bread is going to brown as it bakes, at this point I take a moment to turn as many cubes as possible crust side down. Cutting the crusts off the bread bread at the start is an option too!
1 cup sugar
8 large eggs + 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
2 1/2 cups heavy or whipping cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure almond extract
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
~ Step 7. Set aside for 30-45 minutes. During this time, occasionally press down on the tops to help the top bread cubes to absorb the custard mixture.
~ Step 9. Bake on center rack of preheated 350 degree oven for 40-45 minutes. The bread pudding will be nicely browned, puffed up, oozing some cherry juices/custard, and, the pudding will be set.
Serve warm, with or without freshly whipped cream or ice cream. Leftover bread pudding reheats nicely. Cover with plastic wrap and gently reheat in the microwave!
Special Equipment List: 17 1/2 x 12 1/2" baking pan; parchment paper; 8, 2-cup size ramekins; cutting board; serrated bread knife; 8-cup measuring container; whisk
Cook's Note: Within the next week or two, Joe's highbush blueberry bushes are going to start gifting me with fruit too. My recipe for ~ Blueberry Brioche Bread Pudding for Breakfast ~, can be found in Categories 5, 6, 9 or 20!
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2013)