I’m listening to Christmas music as I write this post. I’m sitting on the couch in my parent’s home, wearing cozy socks while the smell of roasted turkey and its tasty accoutrements hit my nose in waves. It’s a time of year when I become incredibly emotional. Just hearing certain songs makes my eyes well up. They’re not tears of sadness.
They’re tears of unbearable gratefulness.
My heart if so filled with gratitude that it feels as though it will burst. But because that would be physiologically impossible (and dangerous) my eyes get misty instead. It seems like a fair trade.
Because my family is Spanish, we celebrate Christmas on the 24th, not the 25th. I don’t know why this is, but it is. So while everyone else scrambles for last minute gifts on the 24th, my family and I cook/bake up a storm in preparation for the evening’s festivities. We eat until we have food babies and then drink strong coffee or tea. We stay up really late talking and being silly. But mostly we stay up late so we can each open up a gift at midnight.
I woke up at 5 this morning in my parent’s home. The sun wasn’t up yet as I quickly ate some breakfast and sipped coffee. Then I got to working: baking a panettone bread pudding and a white chocolate raspberry cheesecake (for another post, I promise). As I sliced up the panettone, the sun started to rise, casting an orangey-pink glow on the hills surrounding my parents’ home.
I sighed, deeply. “How lucky am I?” I get to make delicious treats for the ones I love and share their company. I am safe. I am healthy. I am happy. Life is good.
So you may be wondering why I used panettone. It’s a delicious, light, sweet, egg-y orange flavored bread that is very popular in europe. It’s making its way here though (yay!). We have several loaves in the house this time of year so I figured why not make bread pudding out of it?
Of course I was not alone in my desire to make panettone bread pudding. Ina Garten had a fabulous recipe at my disposal. I used it. It is good. I mean, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Without much further ado, I give you my slightly adapted version of Ina Garten’s recipe for panettone bread pudding. And a recipe for bourbon caramel sauce that I found on Food & Wine.
Panettone Bread Pudding
- 1 loaf of panettone (about 1.2 lbs), cut into 2 inch cubes
- 1-2 tbsp of unsalted butter at room temperature (for greasing the casserole dish)
- 3 whole eggs
- 8 egg yolks
- 5 c. of half & half
- 2 tsp of pure vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp. pure almond extract
- 2 oz. bourbon, brandy, or spiced rum (optional)
- 1/2 c. white granulated sugar
- 1/3 c. sliced almonds
Preheat the oven to 350F. Line a large baking sheet with parchment and place the cubed panettone in a single layer. Toast the cubed panettone in the preheated oven for 10 minutes and take it out to cool completely.
Grease a large casserole dish (about 9x12x2) with the unsalted butter. Place the toasted panettone in an even layer in the greased baking dish. Set aside.
In a large bowl, beat the eggs and egg yolks until lightened in color. Then add in the sugar and whisk until dissolved. Then whisk in the half & half, vanilla, almond extract, and alcohol. Carefully pour the egg mixture over the panettone. Evenly sprinkle the sliced almonds over the top. Cover with aluminum foil and allow it to sit for 30 minutes.
Place a water bath in the bottom rack. Bake the pudding covered in the foil for 45 minutes. Then take the foil off and continue to bake for another 40-45 minutes (until the custard is set in the middle). Allow to cool for 20-30 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with bourbon caramel sauce (recipe below).
The beauty of this recipe: you can prep this all the day before and bake it off the next morning. If you do this, bake it covered in the foil for one hour instead of 45 minutes, and continue baking, uncovered, for 40-45 minutes.
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
Makes 2 cups of sauce
- 2 c. white granulated sugar
- 1/2 c. water
- 1 tbsp. light corn syrup
- 1 c. heavy cream
- 1/2 c. bourbon
Bring the water, sugar, and corn syrup to a boil over high heat in a medium saucepan. As it comes to a boil, stir it constantly until the sugar dissolves. Once the sugar is dissolved, allow the mixture to boil, without stirring, until it turns to a light amber color (about 6-8 minutes). Once it reaches the amber color, remove the pan from the heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream. Let it cool for a minute and then whisk in the bourbon. Then put the pan back on medium heat and cook for about 1 minute while stirring constantly. Let the sauce cool slightly and serve it warm or at room temperature.
You can store the sauce in the fridge for up to one week. But let it warm to room temperature or heat it up on the stove or microwave.