This is one of my favourite fall desserts. It’s decadent and rich so it’s ideal for cold evenings when we’re craving something comforting. Pears are in season right now so it’s the perfect time to give it a try. It works best with bread that is a couple of days old so it’s a great way to use up stale bread that would otherwise go to waste.
Pear and Pecan Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
Makes about 6 servings
- 4 cups (about 5 thick slices) stale bread such as ciabatta, challah, etc. with crusts cut off and cut into 1- 1/2″ cubes
- 2 large pears, cored and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1/2 cup halved pecans
- 1 cup half and half
- 3 egg yolks
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Caramel Sauce – see recipe below
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Grease a standard sized loaf pan. Layer half of the bread cubes on the bottom of the loaf pan and sprinkle with half the pears and half the pecans.
- Layer the rest of the bread cubes over the pears and pecans. Sprinkle with the remaining pear pieces and pecans. Set aside.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, vanilla, brown sugar and eggs. Pour custard mixture over the bread/pear/pecan layers. Press the top of the pudding down so that everything gets well soaked. Set aside to let custard soak in for about 15 minutes before baking. (Note: the pudding can be assembled a few hours in advance and refrigerated until ready to bake).
- Bake pudding for 30 to 45 minutes or until the pudding is golden brown on top and custard is cooked through. Serve with caramel sauce (see below) and vanilla ice cream or lightly sweetened whipped cream.
This is a versatile sauce that is also great with cake or ice cream. Use caution when working with the hot sugar mixture.
Makes about 1 cup of sauce
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 3 Tablespoons water
- 1/4 teaspoons salt
- 1-1/2 teaspoons butter
- 1 cup cream
- 1/4 teaspoon vanilla
- In a small saucepan heat cream on medium heat.
- While cream is heating, in a separate large saucepan, heat sugar and water on medium-high heat. Whisk until sugar is dissolved.
- Watch the mixture for about 10 minutes or until it begins to turn golden brown but do not whisk. Gently swirl the pan occasionally.
- Remove from heat once it turns a medium brown colour. Quickly add butter and heated cream, whisking as you pour it in. Be careful – the mixture is very hot and will bubble up a bit as the cream is added.
- Add salt and vanilla and mix thoroughly. Whisk until smooth. Pour sauce over bread pudding or your favourite dessert (it’s great on vanilla ice cream!)
Bon Appéit and Enjoy!