Sunday, September 5, 2010
My Venture into Bread Pudding
Have you ever heard of a fluffernutter sandwich? If you're from the northeastern part of the U.S., you probably have. It's a sandwich made with peanut butter and marshmallow crème. Very yummy. If you make it like a grilled cheese sandwich, it's exceptionally yummy. Those wonderful fluffernutter sandwiches were the inspiration for this bread pudding recipe.
When I was developing this recipe, I made it 4 billion times – tweaking things here and there until I got it the way I liked it. I can now say that I'm officially SICK of bread pudding and I never want to taste or smell peanut butter again. This leads me to a story.
Last week, I was driving through the campus where I work. I was singing along to Katy Perry's "California Gurls" when an approaching car unexpectedly turned in front of me going, like, .000001 mph. It came as no surprise that a blue-haired old lady was driving the car. I don't want to speculate about how old she was but I'm confident she learned to drive chariots when Ramses II was Pharaoh. I slammed on my brakes and it took every ounce of self-restraint I had to not give her a friendly, one-finger wave. However, it's hard to flip off mummified old ladies when you're been singing offkey to perky music. Upon closer observation, I realized she was attempting to turn onto a sidewalk instead of the entrance of a nearby parking lot. A long time ago, the University put up some short cement pillars at the entrance of the sidewalk so that confused drivers wouldn't turn onto it thinking it was the entrance of an interstate freeway or something. I fully expected the driver, after realizing the cement pillars were blocking her path down the sidewalk, to back up and get the hell out of my way. No. She sat there…HONKING HER HORN. Yes. Honking her horn. So I thought, "Well, maybe she's having a heart attack or something…". So, I got out of my car and asked if anything was wrong. She rolled down her window and exclaimed in an irritated voice, "Well, I keep honkin' my horn but nobody's openin' the gate!" I just stared back and blinked. I then explained that the cement barricade was not a gate and the "road" she was trying to turn onto was actually a sidewalk. "A SIDEWALK?!", she bellowed back. I then pointed out where she should turn to get into the parking lot. Meanwhile, cars were backing up in both directions because she was blocking both lanes in her huge grandma-mobile that was only slightly smaller than the Nile riverboats I'm sure she rode in as a child. She then started backing up and I walked back to my car. I got in my car and she was still backing up. I put my car in gear and adjusted the air conditioning and she was still backing up. After what seemed like 14 days, her back tires finally hit the opposite curb, she put her boat in drive, and she went on her merry way.
What does this have to do with Fluffernutter Bread Pudding? Nothing. Absolutely nothing. I just could not bring myself to write about bread pudding or peanut butter. Did I mention that I was sick of bread pudding and peanut butter? So go put on some Lawrence Welk and make some of this fantastic bread pudding! Enjoy – and happy fluffernuttering!
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Fluffernutter Bread Pudding
15 - 16 oz french bread (or your favorite bread), crust removed, and cut into 1" cubes
1/2 c sugar
4 c half-and-half
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c butter, melted
1 1/2 c peanut butter
7 oz jar Marshmallow Fluff
Preheat the oven to 300F. Add the cubed bread to a sheet pan and bake for 10 minutes. Do not allow the bread to brown. This dries out the bread so the custard readily absorbs into the bread. After you pull the cubed bread out of the oven, let them cool for about 5 minutes.
While the bread is drying out, combine the eggs and sugar and whisk aggressively for about a minute. Add the half-and-half, salt, and vanilla and whisk to combine. Set aside.
In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, peanut butter, and Marshmallow Fluff. Microwave the mixture for about 60 seconds then whisk until thoroughly combined. Heat the mixture for another 45 seconds or until the mixture is thin and free of any lumps after being whisked. Slowly whisk the hot mixture into with the bowl with the half-and-half. Whisk until smooth. The peanut butter will leach out a little bit but don't worry about it.
Transfer the dried bread cubes into the custard mixture and stir to combine. Increase the oven temperature to 325F. Gently stir the bread every minute or so for 5 minutes to ensure the custard is being absorbed evenly. Stir the mixture one final time then pour the bread mixture into a 4-quart casserole dish that has been sprayed with cooking spray. Allow the mixture to rest for 5 additional minutes without stirring. After 5 minutes, use the back of a spoon to push down the bread to give it one more dunk before baking. Bake for about 50 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out relatively clean. Let the pudding rest for at least 15 minutes (preferably 30 minutes) before serving. It should be served warm but not hot. If desired, drizzle with a some Peanut Butter Glaze (recipe follows).
Peanut Butter Glaze
2 TBSP peanut butter
1/4 c milk (plus additional as needed)
1 1/3 c powdered sugar
Place the peanut butter and milk in a medium bowl and microwave for about 30 seconds. Whisk until smooth. Add the powdered sugar and whisk thoroughly to combine. If the glaze is too thick, add more milk. If it is too thin, add more powdered sugar.
1) To make a Fluffernutter Nanner Bread Pudding, add some chopped bananas to the mixture before baking.
2) Some bread puddings are on the drier side – especially the part that's directly exposed to the heat in the oven. Some are on the moist side. This recipe makes a moist, old-style bread pudding.
3) During recipe development, I tried making this with as much as 2 cups of peanut butter. That was just too peanut-buttery for my taste – especially if you put the glaze on top. I also tried it with as little as one cup of peanut butter. With only 1 cup of peanut butter, you could barely tell any was in there. If you're a peanut-butter-aholic, try it with 2 cups of peanut butter sometime. That's not my thing but you might like it.
4) I have not tested this recipe with natural peanut butter.
5) If you like your desserts on the sweeter side, feel free to double the glaze recipe.
Posted by Cooking Ventures at 12:41 PM