What was the question?
Never mind, it's ok. Most people associate bread pudding with cold, blustery weather (and by most, I mean normal). For some reason, I've been craving it for the past 30 days or so. It kicked in right around the time I had to abandon my morning run because it was already in the upper 80's at 6am (and yes, I'm aware of how lame and sad that excuse is btw...so just know that I know.)
Who does winter think he is? He has no claim on bread puddings, hot coffee, or cardigans. I think bread pudding should be an all-season dessert. Just because it's fattening, rich, and 'comforting', doesn't mean that we can only enjoy it in-between sips of hot cocoa while shivering under layers of blankets. It should/can be just as splendid in-between sips of iced Kahlúa under a light cotton sheet with freshly shaven legs (love that feeling in summer.)
If it's any incentive, this bread pudding is tipsy, very tipsy (I added more than what the original recipe called for). It may be 100+ degrees outside, but you can still treat yourself to some boozy, cozy comfort food. If you simply can't bring yourself to break a summer taboo, just hang onto this recipe for a few more months, and enjoy this time of year while it lasts.
Boozy Bread Pudding (adapted from Emeril Lagasse)
8 slices day-old French bread, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 4 cups) [Note: I used 2 day-old challah bread.]
4 large eggs
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1 cup firmly packed brown sugar (light or dark)
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 cup bourbon [Note: I used 1/2 cup and decreased the amount of cream by 1/4 cup]
2 cups half-and-half cream
1 cup of raisins (I didn't use any)
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips (plus a little extra for topping)
Prepare the bourbon love: In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, salt, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla and bourbon until very smooth.
Add the half-and-half and mix well.
Add the cubed bread and raisins (if using.)
Make sure that all the bread is covered with the custard. Cover, and let the mixture sit undisturbed for at least 2 hours (4 is even better.)
During the long wait, give it a good stir now and then, and be sure that all the chunks of bread remain submerged.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Grease a 9 1/4 x 5 1/4 x 2 3/4-inch loaf pan with butter.
Stir the chocolate chips into the bread pudding. Pour the mixture into the prepared pan and sprinkle with additional chocolate chips (if desired.)
Bake until the pudding is set in the center, about 55 minutes.
Let cool for 10 minutes.
This is best enjoyed while it's still warm, but a scoop of vanilla ice cream is highly recommended!
The pudding will puddle a bit at the bottom of the pan, and you don't want to miss out on any of that action, so just use a large spoon to scoop it out and pour the love over the bread.