Bread Pudding Alaska
I may be overzealous in my pursuit of great bread pudding. Certainly people from other parts of America than New Orleans will think so, because bread pudding is generally thought of (with good reason, too) as a poor person’s dessert.
But the rich New Orleans bread pudding is a thing apart. That’s why even the most expensive restaurants in town serve it. Lots of eggs, cream, and cinnamon make it wonderful. The cook makes it different; the variety of sauces, fruits, and flavorings add the personal touch.
This is an adaptation of the way my mother made bread pudding. She topped it with meringue. I surround it, in the style of baked Alaska. I like making individual puddings for this in muffin tins, then unmold them onto serving plates before adding the meringue and toasting it till browned. Beautiful and really delicious!
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1/2 stick butter
- 1 quart half-and-half cream (warmed)
- 4 Tbs. vanilla
- 2 Tbs. cinnamon
- 8 large eggs, separated
- 1 loaf French bread
- 1/2 cup white raisins
- Meringue topping:
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 Tbs. vanilla
- 5 egg whites (reserved from first step)
- 1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
1. Soften the butter. In a mixing bowl, blend in the sugar until well creamed. Blend in the cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and egg yolks (reserve the whites for the meringue).
2. Tear up the bread into chunks and add it to the above custard mixture from step one. Sprinkle in the raisins as you go to distribute the raisins evenly. Keep adding bread to make a very juicy mixture; don’t add so much as to make it dry.
3. Coat 12 pockets in muffin tins with butter. for 12 muffins. Spoon the pudding mixture into the muffin tins, filling just barely to the top of each. Set the muffin tins in pans of warm water, and bake in the preheated 300-degree oven for 45 minutes. Remove and cool.
4. In a completely clean, grease-free bowl, beat egg whites with cream of tartar at high speed until peaks begin to form. Add sugar a little at a time, followed by vanilla, until completely blended.
5. After bread pudding has cooled for 15 minutes, raise oven temperature to 350 degrees. Place each individual pudding on a baking dish. With a rubber spatula, cover the pudding with as thick a layer of meringue as you can. Little swirls and peaks are desirable. Bake in the 350-degree oven until the meringue is browned—about five minutes. Serve immediately.