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New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding

(Serves 8 to 10)

BREAD PUDDING

Butter – 6 Tablespoons, unsalted, cubed and chilled, plus extra for the pan

French Baguette – 1 (18- to 20-inch), torn into 1-inch pieces

Golden Raisins – 1 cup

Bourbon – 3/4 cup, divided

Heavy Cream – 3 cups

Light Brown Sugar – 1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces), packed

Whole Milk – 1 cup

Egg Yolks – 8 large

Vanilla Extract – 1 Tablespoon

Ground Cinnamon – 1 1/2 teaspoon, divided

Ground Nutmeg – 1/4 teaspoon

Sea Salt – 1/4 teaspoon

Granulated Sugar – 3 Tablespoons

BOURBON SAUCE

Cornstarch – 1 1/2 teaspoons

Bourbon – 1/4 cup

Heavy Cream – 3/4 cup

Granulated Sugar – 2 Tablespoons

Butter – 2 teaspoons, unsalted, cut into small pieces

Sea Salt – pinch

  • FOR THE BREAD PUDDING: Adjust an oven rack to the medium position and heat the oven to 450 degrees. Grease a 13 by 9-inch baking pan. Spread the torn French baguette on a baking sheet and bake until browned, about 12 minutes, turning the pieces over and rotating the baking sheet halfway through baking. Let the bread cool. Reduce the oven temperature to 300 degrees.
  • Meanwhile, heat the golden raisins with 1/2 cup of the bourbon in a small pan over medium-high heat until the bourbon begins to simmer, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain the mixture, reserving the bourbon and raisins separately.
  • Whisk the heavy cream, light brown sugar, whole milk, egg yolks, vanilla extract, 1 teaspoon of the ground cinnamon, the ground nutmeg and the sea salt in a large bowl. Whisk in the remaining 1/4 cup bourbon and the bourbon used to plump the golden raisins. Toss in the toasted torn French baguette until evenly coated. Let the mixture sits until the bread begins to absorb the custard mixture, about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. (If the majority of the bread still hard when squeezed, soak for another 15 to 20 minutes longer.)
  • Pour half of the bread mixture into the prepared baking pan and sprinkle with half of the golden raisins. Pour the remaining bread mixture into the pan and sprinkle with the remaining golden raisins. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
  • Meanwhile, mix the granulated sugar and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon in a small bowl. Using your fingers, cut the cubed chilled unsalted butter into the sugar mixture until the mixture is the size of small peas. Remove the aluminum foil from the pudding, sprinkle with the butter mixture, and bake, uncovered, until the custard is just set, about 20 to 25 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 450 degrees and bake until the top of the pudding forms a golden crust, about 2 minutes. Transfer the pudding to a wire rack and cool for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours.
  • FOR THE SAUCE: Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and 2 Tablespoons of the bourbon together in a small bowl. Heat the heavy cream and granulated sugar in a small saucepan over medium heat until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to low and cook until the sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Off the heat, stir in the remaining 2 Tablespoons bourbon, the unsalted butter pieces and pinch of sea salt. Drizzle the warm sauce over servings of the bread pudding.

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