White Chocolate and Caramelized Pear Bread Pudding

This is it! I am finally doing this. It’s kind of ironic, since I’m currently doing a juice cleanse for the next three days. The reason: I have not been eating very well lately, and not really worked out, and my BFF is coming to down for FOUR DAYS of solid eating and drinking. I’m talking mimosas. every. day. So I have to prep my system for the shock that’s about to come.

I’ll start this blog by giving a warning: I love healthy eating, but not when I have time to really put energy into cooking/baking. Does that make sense? On a random Tuesday, nothing sounds better than some pesto covered salmon with a side of roasted brussels sprouts. But give me a Saturday afternoon and it’s on. Typically with sweets or pasta, both of which provide much comfort.

Anyway, let’s talk about bread pudding. When you ask people about bread pudding, especially on the East Coast, chances are they are going to be disgusted. That’s because they haven’t had my bread pudding (toot toot!). This is the first recipe that came to mind when I thought about finally starting a food (cat) blog. That’s because I feel like it’s the first one that I truly owned. I first discovered bread pudding on The Pioneer Woman’s blog, gave it a try, and was blown away. I decided to jazz it up a bit and make it a bit more custard-y. The results are below. My favorite part about bread pudding? It’s considered “breakfast food” but it’s really a dessert in disguise. I won’t tell if you wont.

First things first, we need to caramelize the pear(s). Cut up a pear (or two if they’re small) very thinly. I tend to use the brighest green pears I can find. I’ll also say that they don’t have to be perfectly ripe, either. Add 1-2 tablespoons of butter to a skillet. When it’s melted, add the pears, stir them around, and add a tablespoon or two of sugar. I prefer 1 tablespoon each of brown and plain white sugar, but I don’t think it matters in the end. Now, you let them slowly cook until they are evenly brown and “sticky.” Put on a plate and let cool. You can put them in the fridge while you make the rest, or if you want, make them the night/day before and place in the fringe, covered, overnight.

Next, let’s prep the rest of the ingredients. First cut the bread into cubes. I typically just grab the biggest loaf I can find, and if there are extras I grind them for breadcrumbs or save for another bread pudding.

Grab the cooled pears out of the fridge and start layering those beautiful ingredients. Bread, pears, white chocolate, bread, pears, then more white chocolate! You want two solid layers. The first picture below doesn’t have enough bread crammed in there.

Now we put together the egg/milk/sugar/vanilla mixture. **WARNING** If you’re a friend, turn away now. You may never forgive me for the amount of sugar in this. And for serving it to you for breakfast. This requires a LOT of sugar. Let’s just say, TPW (The Pioneer Woman) calls for 2 cups for the version that fits into an 8×8, and this is a 9×13. I’ll let you do the math. Anyway, mix together your eggs, milk, vanilla, and melted butter. I also like to add at least a tablespoon of cinnamon, or pumpkin pie spice if I’m feeling frisky, or the cinnamon is too far. This goes without saying, but make sure your melted butter isn’t too hot so you don’t scramble the eggs. Once these are combined, slowly mix in the sugar, whisking while you work. Lastly, pour the mixture over your layered goodness in the pan. At this point you can cover it and put the whole thing in the fridge overnight to let the bread really soak it all up. Just let it come up to room temp a bit before baking it so you don’t crack the glass if you’re using a glass pan.

Yum. SO MUCH SUGAR. Now you just put it in a preheated oven at 325. A 9×13 like this can take an hour to an hour and twenty minutes. It should be slightly puffy when you pull it out, but then settle back down. It should be eggy like french toast, but not too “wet.” Also, I like to let the bread cubes that are on top crisp up a bit, and then cover it so it doesn’t get burnt. Yet again, at this point you can cover and put in the fridge overnight. Just reheat in the oven the next morning at 300/325 for about 30-40 minutes.

Towards the end of baking, you can create the sauce. Again, this is based on TPW’s recipe, but modified. Grab a small sauce pan and add 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup butter, 1/4 cup cream and 1/4 cup of hazelnut liquor. I’ve also used Bailey’s and Kahlua with equally delicious results. Trust me, MAKE THE SAUCE. Your friends will love you, and they can spoon it over the bread themselves, which is totes fun.

And now for a magic trick. I am going to show you a completed bread pudding that looks nothing like the bread pudding we just made. Why? Because I was having friends over for brunch and got distracted making mimosas and didn’t take a final picture. Luckily, I was making it again just weeks later for a Friendsgiving, saving my blog. Behold, the magical shape-shifting bread pudding:

I would definitely classify it as comfort food. At this point I will leave you with a recipe and a cat fact.

The cat’s clavicle, or collarbone, does not connect with other bones but is buried in the muscles of the shoulder region. This lack of a functioning collarbone allows them to fit through any opening the size of their head.

CAT FACT!

Now for the recipe:

Caramelized Pear and White Chocolate Bread Pudding

This size feeds quite a crowd, and can also be reheated the next day with equally delicious results. It can also be devided in half just as easily.

  • 1 large or two medium pears, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 bag white chocolate chips
  • 3 large or extra large eggs (use 2 if dividing in half)
  • 8 tablespoons melted butter, divided
  • 3 tablespoons vanilla
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 cups milk, divided (Whole, skim or in between)
  • 4 1/2 cups sugar, divided
  • 5-6 cups italian or french bread, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 1/4 cup hazelnut liquor

Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Heat 2 tablespoons of butter in a medium skillet. Add pears when melted, then add 2 tablespoons of white or brown sugar. Caramelize over low to medium heat until brown all over but not burnt. Spread out on a plate and cool in the frige while making the remaining ingredients.

When cool, layer first bread cubes, then pears and white chocolate in a 9×13 pan. Create two layers of each total. Mix 2 tablespoons of melted butter, vanilla, cinnamon, eggs and milk in a bowl. Slowly whisk in sugar until combined, and pour over layered bread/pear/white chocolate. Bake for 60-80 minutes until pudding is “set” and not too wiggly. Cover if the top gets too brown at any point.

For the sauce, melt remaining 2 tablespoons of butter in a small saucepan. Add remaining 1/2 cup of milk, 1/4 cup sugar and hazelnut (or alternative) liquor. Heat until all ingredients are combined, and have guests spoon over their own servings.

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