Friday, March 26, 2010

Pear & Honey Bread Pudding on the Grill!

5 months since my last post.  Bad.  But I do have an excuse ... new job, splitting time in two cities, tenant in my house and now living at John's in SoCo!  A lot of change ... one part of which is that I now have a MUCH smaller kitchen in each home.  Boston is small but complete, Austin's while slightly larger is lacking an oven.

No oven! you say ... yes, no oven.  For a woman who loves to way to broil her way into guests hearts & tummies, this is quite a change.  But new challenges forge creativity.  Which is why last Sunday night when craving something delish for dessert I brainstormed what I could create with a combo of gas stove, microwave & grill.  Fundamentally, if you get a grill hot enough and keep the lid closed ... that grill is just a different kind of oven.  Now it isn't one I'd try to make a sensitive souffle in ... but bread pudding?  Why the hell not!?

Enter the final 2009 edition of Bon Appetit, which I hadn't had time to peruse until now.  Their recipe for Apple and Mape Bread Pudding just spoke to me!  Those images of caramelized goodness ... who wouldn't fall for it?  But, alas, no apples & no maple in our kitchen.  That's ok ... got honey, got pears and got a great loaf of sourdough in the freezer that a neighbor made for us a few weeks ago.  Jackpot!

Modified Bread Pudding: Pear & Honey Bread Pudding on the Grill

Gooey Good Bread Custard Mixture
  • 6 large eggs
  • 1/2 C honey - we used local Austin honey (mmmm)
  • 1/2 C dark brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract (I ran out, so I did half vanilla & half almond extract - tasty)
  • 2 teaspoons cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream (this is not for the faint of heart)
  • 1/4 C Calvados (pear brandy - I know, only a Knipp would have this on hand ... from my Dad's last visit) 
  • 1 1-pound loaf neighbor's Sourdough, most crust trimmed, cut into 1-inch cubes (6 1/2 to 7 cups)  
Apple Topping & Partial Mix Element
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 5 Pears quartered, cored, cut into 1/3-inch-thick slices (about 7 cups) - I left the peel intact for fiber
  • 1/4 C honey
  • 1/4 C dark brown sugar

First you make the bread mixture.  I am cribbing liberally from BA with my own tweaks ... Whisk eggs, maple syrup, brown sugar, vanilla, almond extract cinnamon, and sea salt in large bowl. Add milk, cream, and 2/3 of the brandy and whisk until well blended. Add bread cubes and press to submerge into custard. Let soak at least 30 minutes or more.  I let it sit for about an hour.

Meanwhile, heat the grill ... we were making Salmon for dinner so we fired her up for that. Grease a dutch oven - used my Le Crueset round.

Melt butter in large skillet over medium-high. Add pears and sauté until golden and beginning to soften, stirring and turning frequently, 10 to 12 minutes. Stir in honey & brown sugar and the remaining brandy. Simmer until sugar dissolves and mixture thickens to syrup, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Mix half of pear mixture into bread-custard mixture. Transfer bread pudding mixture to prepared pan. Arrange remaining apple slices atop bread pudding in whatever pretty shape pleases your little heart. Spoon any remaining syrup from skillet over apple slices.
Now comes the fun ... be brave!  Put your dutch oven full of bread pudding into the grill and resist the urge to open it!  We had the grill on medium to low and left that bad boy in there for about 2 hours.  I was more concerned that the bottom would burn, so I preferred a slow cook to a quick burn.  If I could have found my thermometer, we could have inserted it into cthe enter of pudding to see if it reached the desired 170°F to 180°F, but we had to play it by gut.

Perhaps the most difficult part ... they want you to take the pudding out and let it rest for 45 minutes!  Really - it smells sooooo awesome!!!  But we had it with the new Haagen Dazs 5 all natural vanilla bean ice cream - DELECTABLE ... and we've been eating & sharing leftovers all week ...

Anyone out there who has great grill dessert or baking recipes to share ... let me know in comments!  This was a fun, delish experiment and despite the calorie count, I think bread puddings will become part of my repertoire as long as I am a grill mama.