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Kahlen's Caramel Bread Pudding with Vanilla Crème Anglaise

This recipe is pretty easy, except it has two sauces… it takes a bit of patients. You’ll need about 4 cups of cream. This is not health food, it’s for special occasion splurges… but it makes a big 13 X 9 pan: 18-21 good size portions.

You can substitute margarine for the butter and milk for the cream and half and half in the pudding portion (not the sauces) to cut down on calories, but the result is not the creamy goodness of the original.

DO NOT LET THE SAUCES SCARE YOU. You’ll find loads of uses for these sauces and they are super easy after you get the hang of it.

1 recipe Caramel Sauce

1 large loaf soft French bread

1 ½ cups white sugar

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup half and half

½ stick (1/4 cup) melted butter

2 teaspoons real vanilla extract OR pure rum extract

4 large eggs.

Extra heavy cream

1 recipe Crème Anglaise

Spray a 13 X 9 baking dish with cooking spray.

Break up the French bread into good-sized chunks and put it in the pan. I let it dry out for about an hour, maybe two. The loaf should be large enough to fill the pan with the bread sticking up over the edge of the pan slightly.

While the bread is resting, make the caramel sauce.

Drizzle the sauce over the bread in the pan, making sure the bread is evenly coated and the sauce well distributed.

Whisk the eggs, then add the sugar and continue whisking and pour in the half and half and 1 cup of the heavy cream. Add the extract and make sure it’s well mixed in.

Pour this mixture over the bread. Next, pour more heavy cream around the pan so that when you push the bread down with your fingers, there is enough liquid in the pan to soak the bread. (I find it’s about ½ to ¾ cup more cream.)

Let this sit for at least 3 hours in the refrigerator. Overnight makes for really fluffy pudding.

Bake at 350 degrees F for about 35 minutes. It will puff up when baking, then settle.

••TIP•• Ovens vary. Mine runs hot so I set the timer for ten minutes under and check it. It is done when a toothpick JUST comes out clean. Over baking makes for that curdled egg-y texture and for hard or dry pudding. You want it soft, so watch it closely.

While the pudding is baking, make the Crème’ Anglaise.

Caramel Sauce

1 cup packed brown sugar

2 tablespoons clear corn syrup

½ stick (1/4 cup butter)

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Pinch of salt (If you like salted caramel, you can use more, but I prefer it this way.)

½ cup half and half

Cook the butter, sugar and corn syrup in a heavy saucepan until it melts and starts to bubble. I start on med/high but turn the heat down. Stir constantly. You’ll cook and stir for 6-8 minutes, but around the 6 minute mark, test it by pulling the spoon out and letting the sauce drip. When the drips form a string… it’s done. Remove from heat and whisk in the half and half and vanilla. Return to medium heat and continue cooking for about a minute. The consistency should be smooth and creamy. (It will resemble caramel ice cream topping you buy at a store).

Crème Anglaise

2 cups heavy cream

½ cup sugar

3 large egg yolks

1 teaspoon real vanilla extract

Whisk the egg yolks in a small bowel and set aside.

Pour the cream into a heavy saucepan and scald it. Turn on medium high until the milk steams and gets frothy. (You do not want a brown crust on the bottom of the pan. This ruins the flavor, so you have to watch. A watched pot doesn’t boil, but it froths. J )

Add the sugar to the pan and stir for about 30 seconds to dissolve the sugar.

Remove from heat. Using a gravy ladle, put 4 or 5 ladles of the hot milk mixture into the bowel with the eggs, stirring after the addition of each one. (This tempers the eggs; bringing the temperature up slowly so that the eggs don’t scramble in the sauce.) When that is done, return the entire egg mixture to the pan, stir together and return to medium heat for 2 or three minutes. Again, stoves run differently, so if you know your runs hot do less time, etc).

If you over cook it will turn into vanilla pudding and be too thick for the sauce. It should be the consistency of a thick soup.)

Keep the sauce on very low heat, or remove to a microwave safe container to reheat just before serving the pudding.

To Serve:

Cut into squares and ladle about 2 ounces of crème anglaise over the top. It should make a nice little pool at the bottom of the pudding.

This is super rich and decadent.

Leftover pudding and Crème Anglaise can be refrigerated. I put the sauce over the pudding and microwave together in individual servings.

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