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Butter 8 (4-ounce) ramekins using 1/2 teaspoon butter each. Place a layer of bread cubes in the bottom of each ramekin, pressing so that they fit snugly. Spoon a generous tablespoon of preserves on top of the bread cubes in each ramekin, dividing the preserves evenly. Divide the remaining bread cubes evenly among the ramekins. Set aside.
In a mixing bowl combine the eggs and sugar and whisk until smooth. Add the heavy cream, milk, and almond extract and whisk to combine. Divide the egg-cream mixture evenly among the ramekins. You may need to let them sit for a few minutes before being able to add more of the cream mixture. Let filled ramekins sit at room temperature for 15 to 20 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F while the ramekins are sitting.
Transfer the ramekins to a 9 by 13-inch baking dish or other baking dish large enough to hold all 8 ramekins. Add enough hot water to come half way up the sides of the ramekins. Lightly butter a sheet of parchment paper that is large enough to cover all of the ramekins and place the parchment, buttered side down, on top of the ramekins. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the custards are set. Remove the custards from the oven and remove the parchment paper. Increase the baking temperature to broil, or turn on the broiler. Alternately, you can brown the tops with a kitchen propane torch.
Sprinkle the top of each custard with about 1/2 teaspoon of sugar. Divide the sliced almonds among the tops of the puddings. When the broiler has heated, broil the puddings until the tops are just golden brown, 4 to 6 minutes, depending on your broiler. Remove from the oven and remove the puddings from the water bath. Allow to cool briefly, then serve with the White Chocolate Creme Anglaise.
White Chocolate Creme Anglaise:
Combine the cream and milk in a 2-quart saucepan and heat over medium heat. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the sugar and the egg yolks and whisk until well blended and pale yellow in color.
Once the cream and milk come to a simmer, remove from the heat and pour about 1/2 cup of the cream and milk mixture over the eggs and whisk to blend. Return the saucepan to the stove, and pour the egg mixture into it. Use a wooden spoon to stir the anglaise in the saucepan, being sure to reach into the corners of the pan. Continue to stir the anglaise until it begins to thicken and clings to the bowl of the spoon, about 5 minutes. Once thickened, remove from the heat and strain into a clean bowl using a fine mesh sieve. Add the white chocolate to the strained custard, and use a whisk to stir the chocolate until it completely melts into the anglaise. Add the vanilla and stir to combine. Serve warm with the Bread Pudding with Strawberry-Raspberry Preserves. Garnish with raspberries.
Yield: 2 cups
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