Bread Pudding

bread pudding 2I love to make bread pudding. We always have left over bread and rolls and turning them into dessert is just satisfying. There are so many variations on bread pudding. Basically, anything you have leftover can be turned into a bread pudding, be it savory or sweet. I once went to Canada with my husband on a romantic getaway. We stayed at this really nice hotel and they served a mushroom bread pudding. I have never forgotten how good it was. They also made a layered potato gratin that was the best I ever had, but that’s another post. This time around, on request from my dog’s grandpa-Bob, I made a regular bread pudding with craisins and a salted caramel sauce with fresh whipped cream. I made two pans, one for Bob and one for our dinner too.

Recipe:

preheat oven to 350 degrees, one pan approx 1 hr. If divided into two pans about 50 min. It’s done when it is puffed in center ¬†and browned on edges and firm to touch. You can always slide a knife into the center to see if it is eggy still. Every oven is different so keep an eye on it.

Batter:
6 eggs
4 c. 1/2 and 1/2
1 c. Milk
1 c. Heavy cream
2 tsp vanilla
1 c. Sugar
1 tbsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp nutmeg

bread pudding batter

 

 

 

 

 

 

mix well and add:
3/4 pound of bread cut into 1″ cubes (stale bread is fine)
1 heaping cup craisins

bread pudding soaking

 

 

 

 

 

 

Add bread and craisins to egg batter and let soak for 1/2 hour.

bread pudding cooked

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divide evenly into two buttered 9×9 pans or 1-13×9¬†buttered pan. Bake until golden brown and puffed in center and firm to touch approx 1 hour at 350 degrees. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Spoon into a pretty glass or dish, top with caramel sauce and fresh whipped cream.

 

Caramel sauce:
Use store bought caramel or make a homemade hard sauce if you want. I just add 1/4 c. bourbon to 1 cup of carmel sauce and it is really delicious.

Fresh whipped cream:
1 c. heavy cream ( be sure and buy a brand that does not get milk from cows treated with RBGH or RBST, antibiotics and hormones, I know Oakhurst is a great source, but there are others.
1/4 cup of confectioners sugar
1 tbsp bourbon
whip until stiff and place a dollop on top…Enjoy!

bread pudding 3

Cannoli

cannoli
Cannoli is a family favorite around here! The shell is crunchy, the filling is creamy and sweet. You can purchase the shells at the grocery store or make them homemade. They are readily available around the holidays, but they are available all year in Italian markets. I made 12 of the mini ones on christmas eve and they all went. The recipe I will provide to you will most likely fill 36 mini or 18 large. I’d like to tell you that this is the authentic filling, but the Italians are pretty tight lipped on this filling recipe. I have only been able to experiment over the years and come extremely close. I will say that I would let this recipe be put up against any Italian pastry shop Cannoli proudly! I believe that the key to getting this filling right is being patient and buying good ricotta. I get my ricotta at the Italian store in Portland, Maine. It is very good quality, but the key is letting it drain in cheesecloth in the refrigerator for a few days. The excess liquid that comes out of it is super important in getting this filling correct. That is the hardest part, the rest is simple, unless you make the shells and then the recipe would be more time consuming.

Filling:
2 cups ricotta, all ready drained for one or two days
1 vanilla bean split and scooped of seeds
1 c. confectionery sugar
1 tsp pure vanilla
6-8 oz. Mascarpone cheese

Optional Items: dried candied diced fruit, lemon or orange zest.

Prepare the filling.
place two layers of cheesecloth in a sieve with a handle and place in a bowl.(This is like a mesh strainer) Put enough cheesecloth to hang over the edges. Place the 2 cups of ricotta and wrap the ricotta and twist the excess cheesecloth for wringing out liquid. Place bowl in fridge to drain. Anytime you think of it give it a squeeze. After two days you may have gotten as much as a 1/4 cup of liquid out of the ricotta.
Now add the the rest of the ingredients and beat with electric mixer, place into a piping bag, close end with an elastic and place in refrigerator until ready for use.
The shells:
Embellish the shells by dipping in melted chocolate and chopped pistachio nuts. When ready to serve snip the end of the piping bag and fill the shells. After filling with cheese mixture dip one end in mini chocolate chips. Sprinkle with powdered sugar! Serve immediately while shells are crunchy. They will stay fresh for a few hours.
Enjoy!

Italian Ricotta Cheesecake

Italian Ricotta CheesecakeCheesecake is the one dessert that gets the most favorable responses from people. They are so visually appealing. But, then they are so creamy, sweet and delicious, its like a big hug when you bite into a rich piece of cheesecake. I guess you could say it is the ultimate comfort food. I first saw a picture of this on Pinterest and knew someday I would need to make it, and when I say “make it” most of you know I mean, make it my own way. Great idea and so pretty! This one is perfect for Christmas with green pistachios and red raspberries. The base cheesecake can be used for so many different cheesecakes. You can add any flavor you want to the cheesecake, almond extract would be great, or banana, or ginger or just plain vanilla. The crust can be chocolate graham crumbs, oreos, or ginger snaps, nutty or shortbready. The possibilities are endless so go create something!

Crust
10″ springform pan ~ buttered pan
Preheat oven to 300 degrees

1/3 c. granulated sugar
1/4 tsp. salt
5 Tbsp. Butter melted
1 1/2 c. graham cracker crumbs
mix well and press into buttered springform pan
wrap the bottom of the spring-form pan in two layers of foil and set aside

Filling

1 c. ricotta cheese
3- 8oz. pkg of cream cheese (room temp)
1 1/2 c. sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1 heaping tbsp all purpose flour
2 tsp vanilla
1 vanilla bean split open and scraped of the seeds
5 eggs
1/2 c. sour cream
1 tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice

Beat cheeses, sugar, salt, and flour on med speed with an electric mixer, add vanilla and vanilla bean, add eggs 1 at a time, add sour cream and lemon. When fully mixed add to the springform pan crust.

Place a pan on the bottom rack with 2 inches of boiling water in your preheated 300 degree oven. Place the Cheesecake on the rack above the water and bake for 70 to 80 minutes. A good rule of thumb when a cheesecake is fully cooked, is the center will be level with the edges, not concave. When the center is puffed it is usually done. If it splits in the middle, don’t fret, it’s okay. All the toppings will cover any cracks, besides that’s the sign of a homemade cheesecake. When it’s done, do not remove the cake from the oven, just turn off the oven and crack the door a bit, leave it until fully cooled. At this point you may, leave it in the refrigerator for up to 2 days before serving.

Sides of the cheesecake can be embellished with whatever you love, this cheesecake has pistachios. Any chopped nut or mini chocolate chips, or crushed cookies or candy will work. I used an apricot jam, spread on the cake with a butter knife, and then added the chopped pistachios. The topping I used was fresh raspberries, however, blackberries, blueberries or strawberries, or any fruit you like will work. It took about 3 half pints of berries.

I also had a fresh seedless raspberry glaze on hand that I put below the raspberries…
Have fun and Enjoy!