Saturday, September 19, 2009

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce


Rumor has it that there's a shortage of pumpkin. Yikes! How could this be? Would this be the year that the coveted ingredient of the season would be pumpkin?! Apparently, in some areas of the US, canned pureed pumpkin and pumpkin pie filling are not as readily available... at least not yet. I hope those who are having trouble finding it will be able to get their hands on pumpkin soon so they too, can indulge in pumpkin recipes in time for fall baking season.

Thankfully, here in Chicago, I haven't had any problems finding canned pumpkin. In fact, I picked up a couple 29 oz. cans of pumpkin just in case the shortage hits Chicago. With so much pumpkin on hand, it was hard not to start putting it to use! There's something comforting about bread pudding to me, which I've explained here... so I took this opportunity to use my pumpkin in making this bread pudding. The combination of pumpkin and cinnamon captures the flavors of fall with every bite, perfect for this time of year. What I liked about this recipe is the ease in putting it together. Just the aroma of all the ingredients makes me anxious for the leaves to start turning color. And if the pumpkin bread pudding wasn't enough, the rich, buttery caramel sauce made with dark brown sugar puts this over the top!

Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
recipe adapted from Epicurious/Bon Apetite

Bread pudding
2 cups half and half
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 cups 1/2-inch cubes French bread (about 10-ounces)

Caramel sauce
1 1/4 cups (packed) dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
Powdered sugar for garnish (optional)

For bread pudding:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Whisk half and half, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes. Transfer mixture to 11x7-inch baking dish. Let stand 15 minutes. Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare caramel sauce:
Whisk brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes.

Serve warm with caramel sauce and sift powdered sugar over bread pudding if desired.