Thursday, February 16, 2012
Maple Banana Bread Pudding: Heaven in a Bowl
This is turning into quite a sweet week here ... sugar is in the air! My cozy dessert mood has continued, most likely due to the rain splattered windows and chilly, damp air, so indulging in one of our family favorites was comforting.
Nursery desserts - soothing, soft bowls of creamy sweetness - have always been a weakness of mine. I adore them all, whether it's rice pudding, tapioca, mousse, fool or graham nut pudding. Custards make me happy (and don’t even get me started on crème brulee).
I am particularly fond of bread pudding. I appreciate the thriftiness of leftover bread heels and stale crusts being transformed into a luscious, pleasing dessert. Simple ingredients - eggs, cream, sugar and bread - form the basis of the pudding, allowing you to add other flavors that inspire you.
A number of years ago I discovered Maple Bread Pudding in Bon Appetit and it has become a mainstay in my repertoire. Maple syrup shines here and adds earthy, sublime sweetness. I’ve adapted this rich pudding slightly to create variations depending upon my mood or what’s on hand. Toasted walnuts, cacao nibs, chocolate chunks, toasted coconut, maple sugar candy or some combination of these have all been scrumptious. Chopped bananas have emerged as my go-to addition, though.
Topped with a dollop of freshly whipped cream, a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a drizzle of butterscotch sauce, this dessert will elicit sighs of contentment. There’s nothing like snuggling under an afghan on the couch with a bowl of warm pudding to brighten the grey skies.
Maple Banana Bread Pudding
Adapted slightly from Bon Appetit, September 2004
1 quart heavy cream or half and half
3/4 cup dark brown sugar
1 1/2 cups maple syrup, divided (preferably Grade B)
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 pound of challah or other egg bread, torn into small pieces
3 bananas, chopped
More options to add if desired:
Toasted coconut flakes
Crumbled maple sugar candy
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, brown sugar, 1 1/4 cup maple syrup and vanilla together. Add the challah and stir to combine. Let sit for about an hour, until the bread is well soaked. Stir the bananas into the mixture (or any other yummy additions).
Preheat the oven the 375 degrees. Butter a 9x13 inch or similar sized baking dish. Pour the pudding into the baking dish and spread evenly. Drizzle the remaining 1/4 cup maple syrup over the top.
Place the dish on a rimmed baking sheet and bake for 35-40 minutes, until the pudding is puffed and lightly browned. Serve warm and enjoy.