Fig Bread Pudding with Balsamic Drizzle

A few weeks ago I posted about my goodies from the Club Culinaire event. I have been dying to try the balsamic and the sugar I got more than anything in that bag. Almost every Sunday night I spend the evening with one of the best families I have ever had the blessing to meet, the Stumpfs. Sundays are always a culinary adventure before we sit down to watch True Blood.

Dinner time
The remains of dinner

This week was a focus on the balsamic. Heirloom tomatoes are in season, so what better way to celebrate the delicious summer bounty than with a fresh Caprese.The balsamic was THICK AND DELICIOUS! It will definitely be on my rebuy list.

The bread pudding came as an inspiration solely by chance. I wanted to make creme brulee with the vanilla sugar (seriously…. how good would that be?), but the Stumpfs did not have a torch, and a broiler would have warmed the custard. Yuck. Luckily, Jackie Stumpf had figs, which go great with balsamic. And then the idea hit me. Seeing day old croissants, I knew I had hit the jackpot.

*the custard recipe is adapted from Ina Garten: Croissant Bread Pudding*

3 extra-large whole eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
4 croissants, preferably stale ‘
2 french rolls (I add rolls because I like the varying texture and the crusty outer crunch)
4 whole figs

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the whole eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside.

Slice the croissants into chunks. I usually cut them in half, and then each half into 4 pieces. Cut the rolls into square inch sizes.

In a baking dish, place the chunks of bread. The baking dish should be big enough that the bread just sticks up over the top. Next, slice the figs into rings and then the rings into half circles.

Add the figs and mix them around in the bread. Finally, pour the custard over the bread and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Place the pan in a larger one filled with 1-inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so it doesn’t touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake for 40 to 45 more minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature.

IF you want to add the sugar crust, right when it comes out of the oven for the second 45 minutes, sprinkle sugar on top. Place under broiler for 2-3 minutes, or until desired browning.

Once the bread pudding had cooled a bit, drizzle either a reduced balsamic (if the balsamic is originally not viscous) or drizzle a thicker balsamic on top. The one my mother gave me was a little on the sweet side and thick, so I did nothing to it. Reducing it will also make it sweeter. Bon Apetit!

PS. Look at the paintings Katie and I did. She redecorated her room and had all her friends paint a picture of poppies. Mine is on the right, and hers on the left. Aren’t they pretty :)

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