I’ve been on hiatus lately.
For the first time in close to four years, I’ve really started to slow down… started to relax. It’s a weird feeling, to be honest. I feel… lazy, almost. I treasure the freedom of carefree afternoons, yet despise the now inevitable feeling of being unproductive.
It’s a simultaneous love-hate relationship.
But I’ve also reached the point where everything around me, so it feels, is speeding up. The final days of school, the last few days of work, the leap from home to a new city. Part of me just wants to press my hands to the calendar and make sure no more time slips away.
I’m trying to catch every last grain falling through the sand-timer.
I’ve been trying to distract myself from this urge to dig my heels in and stop the clock. Baking is my distraction.
I go home, walk back and forth in my kitchen a few times. Cakes, cookies, custards, decisions, decisions, decisions.
Since when have I become so indecisive?
And then an idea hits.
Chewy Chocolate Cookies with White Chocolate Chips, Caramel-Topped Brownies, Aunt Sassy Cake from the Baked boys, double chocolate muffins (…or were they cakes?). Two batches of rice pudding.
Ironically, with all this time and all this baking, I have not made a post in over a month. And I’m being completely honest when I tell you I don’t know why.
I don’t have much of a plan for this summer. I’m not much of a planner lately either. But what I do know is that I’m going to spend a lot of time in the kitchen – and, hopefully, that energy and enthusiasm will carry over to my blogging too.
Now, let’s get to what we’re really here for. Let’s talk about some bread pudding, shall we?
I know, I know . . . it’s pretty much summertime and bread pudding isn’t necessarily the most
“appropriate” dessert for the season. But just imagine taking a few bites of this warm and inviting bread pudding on a chilly summer night. Oh, and did I mention that it’s served with a few generous spoonfuls of brown butter caramel sauce?
I think we’re on the same page now.
This bread pudding is tender, decadent, and has an intense almond flavor. The oils of the almonds really infuse nicely into the cream and milk, which is then absorbed by the buttery challah bread. And topping it off with the thick, velvety caramel? You simply can’t go wrong.
*Note that the recipe pictured was made with a higher proportion of milk and cream. I reduced the amounts in the recipe below to allow for the challah to “hold its own” a little better. Also, you can use as many or as few almonds (reserved from infusing the milk) when assembling the bread pudding . . . it’s really up to your personal tastes and preferences.
Toasted Almond Bread Pudding
- 2 C. Sliced Almonds
- ¾ C. Whole Milk
- ¾ C. Heavy Cream
- 8 C. Cubed Challah Bread (1” pieces)
- ¼ C. Amaretto
- 4 Egg Yolks
- ½ C. Granulated Sugar
- ½ tsp. Kosher Salt
Toast almonds in the bottom of a medium sauce pan over medium-low heat until lightly golden, about 6-8 minutes. Add milk and cream and bring to a simmer. Cover and remove from the heat. Let sit for 20 minutes.
In the meantime, preheat the oven to 200 degrees F. Spread cubed challah on a sheet pan and toast in prepared oven until slightly dry, about 8 minutes (toss every 2-3 minutes to keep bread from burning). Remove from oven.
After 20 minutes, strain the almonds from the milk and cream. Reserve almonds. Beat together infused milk mixture with eggs, sugar, salt, and amaretto.
Raise the oven to 325 degrees F. Butter an 8 x 11.5 x 2 in baking dish. Layer half of the bread in the dish, followed by half of the custard and desired amount of reserved almonds. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Press down layers and let sit for at least 30 minutes.
Bake bread pudding in a hot water bath in the oven (middle rack) for 45-55 minutes, until custard is set. Remove from oven and cool.
Brown Butter and Amaretto Caramel Sauce
-1/2 Stick Butter
- ¾ C. Brown Sugar
- ¼ C. Amaretto
- 1 C. Heavy Cream
- ½ tsp. Kosher Salt
In a medium-sized sauce pan, cook butter over medium-low heat until it browns, about 6 minutes. Add in brown sugar and whisk until smooth. Carefully add in amaretto (be extra careful as the alcohol may cause the sauce to catch fire momentarily; don’t be alarmed as it will burn off). Finally add in heavy cream and whisk until smooth. Let simmer over low heat for 3-5 minutes.