Tonight Andrew and I are going over to his uncle’s house for dinner with his family in Willow Glen/Cambria area of San Jose. The only other time I’ve met them was when Andrew’s grandmother died, so this will hopefully be a much better time. They asked that we make a dessert to bring over. I was feeling something autumnal, maybe with apples or pumpkin. I decided on apples because well, pumpkins are a pain in the ass and I didn’t feel like a pie.
There was a delicious sounding apple caramel bread pudding in Martha Stewart’s cookbook The Martha Stewart Living Cookbook.
Salted Vanilla Caramel Sauce
- 2 cups organic, evaporated cane juice sugar (I know I went all fancy and shit)
- 1 cup organic half and half
- 1 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 tsps. vanilla extract (original recipe called for a vanilla bean, but I ain’t that fancy)
- 1/2 cup water
- 2 tbsp. salted butter (you can use unsalted as well)
1. Pour water and sugar into a small/medium sized sauce pan. Do NOT mix together. Heat on medium and gently swirl the pan (occasionally) for twenty minutes until your sauce has reached a deep amber color. I thought mine had reached this stage but apparently it didn’t and was a little thin but still delicious.
This is what it looks like when you first put it on the stove.
Note: making anything that boils and has sugar scares the crap out of me. I’m always afraid it’s going to explode every where. It seriously looks like lava when its cooking.
This is what it looks like before you add the heavy cream, butter, vanilla and salt.
2. Turn the temperature down to low. Slowly add the cup of heavy cream and mix with a wooden spoon. Yes, it is imperative that you use a wooden spoon. This will make you feel superior to people who use metal or plastic spoons. Then add the two tablespoons of butter, vanilla, and salt. Mix and keep on low until you are ready to assemble the pudding.
This is what it looks like when you are done. Note the essential wooden spoon.
Now, while this was cooking I was also cutting apples into “matchsticks”. My cutting skills are similar to a pre-schooler’s drawing skills: they’ve got the concept but they still can’t put it together the right way.
Caramel Apple Bread Pudding
- 1 8 oz. loaf of brioche (you can use white bread with the crusts removed, but remember you’re trying to be fancy)
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tsps. vanilla
- 3 large eggs
- 1 1/4 cup almond milk (the recipe called for heavy cream, but I wasn’t about to use THAT much heavy cream in one dessert)
- 2 granny smith apples cut into match sticks
- the juice of one lemon
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 tbsp. salted, room temperature butter (this is for rubbing on your ramekins).
1. Cut your two granny smith apples into matchsticks. Use the time that you’re sauce is cooking to do this. This is time consuming if you have shitty knife skills like me or don’t own a mandolin. Doesn’t really matter, none of us are trying out for Top Chef or anything.
My beautiful matchstick apples. I think I’m failing Martha with my knife skills.
2. Pre-heat the oven to 325 degrees F. Place apples in a bowl; toss with lemon juice; set aside. Butter two large ramekins (you can also do six individual ramekins if you want to make it extra special). Cut brioche into 8 slices, quarter each slice, and set aside.
3. In a bowl, whisk together almond milk, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Add brioche and toss to coat.
4. To assemble, coat the bottom of each of your ramekins with a thin layer of sauce. Then add a quarter of the apple mixture to each ramekin, then add a quarter of the bread mixture, then sauce, and repeat for a second layer.
This is what it looks like before you cook it.
5. Cook for forty minutes until puddings are set. Martha goes into all this crap about using a water bath, but it’s not necessary and its an extra step. I hate extra steps.
6. Serve warm with sauce. Yum!
It was a little sweet for me and I think next time I would reduce the sugar so that I don’t feel like I’m going into a diabetic coma. The salt added a nice touch to the caramel and it went deliciously with the apples.