Wednesday, January 2, 2008

Bread Pudding with Crème Anglaise

Bread pudding is, always has been, and always will be one of my favorite desserts. Ever. And luckily, it is a recipe that is easily made more healthy with a few substitutions that don't effect the taste at all! I even fool my "health-food-hating" dad with this one time and time again. Probably because it's so gooey and warm, with its chewy raisins and sweet custard, drizzled with crème anglaise.... yum!

In this recipe, I use unsweetened vanilla Almond Breeze, which is a non-dairy "milk" similar to soymilk, but made with almonds rather than soybeans. I don't like to drink it, but it lends a nice, very subtle nutty vanilla flavor to baked goods so I use it every now and then. If you'd prefer, you can use skim milk in it's place. Just make sure that for the crème anglaise, you use skim milk and NOT the Almond Breeze.

For the Bread Pudding
1/4 cup raisins
2 tablespoons unsweetened apple cider
1 1/2 cups fat-free Almond Breeze, in unsweetened vanilla (or skim milk)
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 large eggs and 1 egg white (SAVE YOLK FOR CRÈME ANGLAISE)
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp of salt
4 1/2 cups (about 8 oz) stale cubed French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
2 tsp coarse-grained decorative sugar (optional)

For the Crème Anglaise
1 egg yolk
1-1/2 tbsp sugar
3/4 cups skim milk
1 vanilla bean, 1-1/2 inches long

For the bread pudding, combine the raisins and cider in a small bowl and let stand for 30 minutes. Coat an 8-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Combine the milk, vanilla extract, eggs and egg white (reserve the yolk for crème anglaise), sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt a large bowl; mix well. Add bread, tossing gently to fully coat. Pour mixture into the baking dish. Sprinkle with raisins. Cover with foil; chill 1 hour, or up to 4 hours.

Meanwhile, start the crème anglaise. Whisk the reserved egg yolk and sugar in a medium bowl; set aside. Set a strainer over another bowl for the sauce, and have it ready by the stove.

Pour milk into a medium saucepan. Scrape seeds from the vanilla bean; add seeds and bean to the milk. Heat over medium heat, stirring often to prevent scorching, until steaming and hot but NOT bubbling. Discard the bean.

Gradually whisk the hot milk into the eggs. Pour the mixture back into the pan and place it over medium-low heat. Cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until sauce is thick enough to thinly coat the back of the spoon, 4 to 5 minutes. Quickly remove from heat and strain into your sauce bowl. Cover and chill for about 1-1/2 hours (it will continue to thicken in the refrigerator).

Preheat oven to 350°F. Place the bread pudding dish in a 13 x 9-inch baking pan and add hot water to the 13 x 9 until it’s 1 inch deep. Bake, with foil still on, for 20 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with decorative sugar, and bake an additional 10 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature, with room temperature crème anglaise.

Yield: 8 servings bread pudding, and about 3/4 cup crème anglaise
210 calories per serving (185 without sauce)



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