Bread pudding

For a feeling of accomplishment, learn to be creative in the kitchen. Creativity starts with a basic recipe to which you can add your personal touch.

A good basic recipe is old-fashioned bread pudding. I can only imagine that the first bread pudding was probably made to utilize leftovers. In the Southern kitchen, the bread was probably biscuits.

Bread pudding is made with only a few ingredients, including bread, milk, eggs, sugar and usually some kind of fruit. Any of these ingredients can be changed to give you your own delicious version.

For the first bread pudding I made, I chose to use French bread due to its firm texture.

The most delicious bread pudding I made used large bakery-type cinnamon rolls. These are especially good with apples, peaches or pears.

Another bread I have used is Hawaiian Sweet Bread.

I tried using yeast doughnuts, but found them to be too light and airy; they did not absorb the liquid as well as they should have.

To change the liquid, you might want to try chocolate milk, which is great for a chocolate bread pudding. To give it a deeper chocolate flavor, add a few tablespoons of cocoa.

Another suggestion would be coconut milk or cream of coconut, but remember that when cream of coconut is used, you will need to reduce the amount of sugar.

Some people like to use sweetened condensed milk as a portion of the liquid called for in the basic recipe. This would definitely call for reducing the sugar.

How about using fruit juice? Perhaps a mixture of sweetened condensed milk with orange juice for an Orange Julius Bread Pudding? Sounds great. Just a thought; I haven't tried it yet.

Make your own choice of sauce. I like the following Amaretto sauce because it gives the plain and simple pudding an elegant touch. You might also want to add some cherries to this bread pudding.

Head to the kitchen and be creative.

CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING WITH AMARETTO SAUCE

  • 6 cups bread chunks, lightly packed
  • 1 quart chocolate milk
  • ⅔ cup sugar
  • 2 tablespoons cocoa
  • 2 large eggs, lightly beaten
  • 4 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • ¾ cup chopped almonds

For the Amaretto sauce:

  • ½ cup butter, softened at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • ¼ cup water
  • 2 tablespoons Amaretto liqueur (or to taste)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a 13x9x2-inch baking pan. Combine the bread chunks with the chocolate milk in a large bowl and set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in another large bowl. Mix well. Add soaked bread chunks and mix well. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 45 to 50 minutes.

For the sauce:  Combine butter, sugar and egg yolk in small saucepan. Mix well. Add water. Cook over medium heat until sugar dissolves and mixture is slightly thickened. Remove from heat and stir in Amaretto. Serve immediately with warm bread pudding.

Award-winning chef Prudence Hilburn’s cooking column appears every other week. Contact her at prudencehilburn@aol.com.

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