I think it’s becoming clear that I have developed quite the obsession with pumpkin. Pumpkin pancakes, pumpkin cookies, pumpkin granola, pumpkin bars(to be posted soon)…there is no end in sight to the pumpkin madness. Another current obsession of mine: salted caramel. I first had it in salted caramel ice cream at Molly Moon’s Ice Cream and since then my life hasn’t been the same. Anything that has salted caramel, I’m all over it. So really, it was only a matter of time until I would think to put pumpkin and salted caramel together.
Bread pudding has been on my baking list for awhile, but it seems that only a special occasion would merit such a decadent dessert. I figured Aunt Penny’s visit to Seattle definitely qualified as a “special occasion” so I used the opportunity to combine bread pudding, pumpkin, and salted caramel. Hey, if you’re going to go all out, go all out! Speaking of “going all out,” not only did we drizzle salted caramel over the bread pudding, but we bought a take-home container of salted caramel ice cream from Molly Moon’s to go with the bread pudding. It was so unnecessary but so good.
The pumpkin bread pudding itself was fabulous. It was warm, custard-y, and full of pumpkin flavor. The salted caramel sauce drizzled over it brought out an amazing sweet and salty combination that made every bite melt in my mouth. All in all, it was an all-star dessert. I don’t even think there needs to be a “special occasion” to make it…it’s a breeze to make and is a perfect mid-day snack the next day. Yes, I can attest to that. This would also be a wonderful ending to any fall dinner or a fun alternative to pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving!
One note about the recipe: I halved everything and made it in an 8×8″ baking dish…it worked just fine, but my baking time was reduced to about 50 minutes.
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
adapted from The Sweet Melissa Baking Book
makes 8-10 servings
1 loaf of Challah (or Brioche), cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1 lb loaf)
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
2 tsp pure vanilla extract
2 tsp cinnamon (I used 3 cinnamon sticks)
1/4 tsp ground ginger
1/2 tsp ground cloves
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
5 large eggs
3 large egg yolks
3/4 cup white sugar
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 tbsp butter, melted
cinnamon sugar (3 tsp sugar, 1/4 tsp cinnamon)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Lay bread cubes on a baking sheet in a single layer and lightly toast them to dry, about 10 minutes. Keep an eye on them!
Lightly butter a 2 quart baking dish.
In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, heavy cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon, ginger, cloves, and nutmeg and heat until the cream is steaming and tiny bubbles form around the edges. Do not boil. Remove from heat and cover with aluminum foil. Let steep for at least 20 minutes.
In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, sugar, salt, and pumpkin puree until very smooth. Set aside.
When the cream has steeped, reheat it over medium heat until hot but not boiling. Temper the cream mixture into egg mixture, pouring it little by little and whisking the whole time.
Place toasted bread into prepared pan. Pour cream/egg mixture over bread and press with hands, making sure that all of the bread is soaked. Let it sit for 20 minutes.
Brush top with melted butter and sprinkle with cinnamon sugar.
Bake in preheated oven 1 hour and 15 minutes, or until pudding has set. Check around 45 minutes, and if top is getting really brown, I would recommend covering it with aluminum foil.
Serve drizzled with salted caramel sauce.
1 1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup water
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tsp sea salt
In medium saucepan, combine sugar and water and bring to a boil. Boil over high heat until it turns a deep amber color, about 6 minutes. Remove the saucepan from the heat and sloooooooowly add the heavy cream and salt. Serve over bread pudding.
This can be made up to 1 week in advance.