Monday, August 3, 2009

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce

This weekend during the Hats Off to Saratoga Music Festival, my sister Anne and I walked the few blocks from her house to downtown to hear Maggie Doherty and Zac Rossi perform. They were terrific and it was exciting to be there among their fans, families, and friends. After the performance, we joined the others at Irish Times, a new restaurant and bar located on Phila Street, former site of The Trattoria, and before that, The Tin Shop. It’s a beautiful building with lots of atmosphere, a central bar underneath a huge black iron chandelier, and a number of outdoor terraces. An Irish band performed while we had a drink and then dinner. Because of the festival, it was crazy-busy. We both ordered Caesar salads which were fine, but sometime soon, on a quieter evening, I’d like to order something a little more authentically Irish. While Bangers and Mash are not on my list of must-have Irish foods, I just might stop in to try one of their desserts.

In the spirit of desserts with an Irish flavor, I provide here a recipe for bread pudding. This isn’t just any bread pudding. This recipe comes from the kitchens of Skidmore College, with an award-winning Food Services staff who have won national competitions. The Alumni Affairs Office shares note pads imprinted every few pages or so with some of these award-winning recipes, and I find myself flipping through the blank pages to find the next one!

White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Irish Whiskey Sauce

1-1/2 c. whipping cream
¾ c. Irish whiskey
9 tbl. Sugar
½ vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2 tbl. Cold water
¾ tsp. cornstarch

Bread Pudding:
2 c. whole milk
1 c. sugar
6 large eggs
2 large egg yolks
1 tsp. vanilla extract
8 oz. day-old French bread cut into 1” pieces
1 c. semisweet chocolate chips (about 6 oz.)
3 oz. white chocolate, cut into ½” chunks

For sauce: Combine cream, whiskey, and sugar in heavy small saucepan. Scrape in seeds from vanilla bean; add bean. Bring to simmer over high heat, stirring constantly. Reduce heat to medium-low. Mix 2 tbl. water and cornstarch in bowl until smooth. Add to cream mixture; simmer until sauce thickens slightly and leaves path when finger is drawn across back of spoon, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Strain sauce into small bowl. Cover and refrigerate until well chilled, about 1 hour. (Can be made 1 day ahead – keep refrigerated).

For bread pudding: Preheat oven to 400°F. Whisk milk, sugar, eggs, yolks, and vanilla in large bowl until well blended. Mix in bread. Let stand 20 minutes. Stir both chocolates into bread mixture. Transfer to buttered 8” square glass baking dish. Place baking dish in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to come 1” up sides of baking dish. Bake until pudding is set, about 1 hour. Remove baking dish from water. Cool pudding slightly and serve warm with chilled sauce.

Makes 12 servings.

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