A bourbon bread pudding with a real taste of New Orleans

By America’S Test Kitchen :The Associated Press

We started our New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding recipe by tearing a baguette into ragged pieces, which gave the bread pudding a rustic look. We then toasted the bread to a deep golden brown, which prevented the prepared recipe from turning soggy.
Once the custard set up in the oven, we sprinkled cinnamon, sugar, and butter on top and let it bake until the topping was caramelized. Then, for a real taste of New Orleans, we drizzled the bread pudding with our warm Bourbon Sauce.
Servings: 8-10
Start to finish: 2 hours, 30 minutes
1 (18- to 20-inch) baguette, torn into 1-inch pieces (10 cups)
1 cup golden raisins
3/4 cup bourbon
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into 6 pieces and chilled, plus extra for baking dish
8 large egg yolks
1 1/2 cups packed (10 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
3 cups heavy cream
1 cup whole milk
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 recipe Bourbon Sauce (recipe follows)
Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 F. Arrange bread in single layer on baking sheet and bake until crisp and browned, about 12 minutes, turning pieces over and switching baking sheets halfway through baking. Let bread cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 F.
Meanwhile, heat raisins with 1/2 up bourbon in small saucepan over medium-high heat until bourbon begins to simmer, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain mixture, reserving bourbon and raisins separately.
Butter 13-by 9-inch broiler-safe baking dish. Whisk egg yolks, brown sugar, cream, milk, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt together in large bowl. Whisk in reserved bourbon plus remaining 1/4 cup bourbon. Add toasted bread and toss until evenly coated. Let mixture sit until bread begins to absorb custard, about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. If majority of bread is still hard, continue to soak for 15 to 20 minutes.
Pour half of bread mixture into prepared baking dish and sprinkle with half of raisins. Pour remaining bread mixture into dish and sprinkle with remaining raisins. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 45 minutes.
Meanwhile, mix granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in small bowl. Using your fingers, cut 6 tablespoons butter into sugar mixture until size of small peas. Remove foil from pudding, sprinkle with butter mixture, and bake, uncovered, until custard is just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove pudding from oven and heat broiler.
Once broiler is heated, broil pudding until top forms golden crust, about 2 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and let cool for at least 30 minutes or up to 2 hours. Serve.
Bourbon Sauce:Makes about 1 cup
1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
1/4 cup bourbon
3/4 cup heavy cream
2 tablespoons sugar
Pinch salt
2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into 8 pieces
Whisk cornstarch and 2 tablespoons bourbon in small bowl until well combined. Heat cream and sugar in small saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Whisk in cornstarch mixture and bring to boil. Reduce heat to low and cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes. Off heat, stir in salt, butter, and remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon. Drizzle warm sauce over individual servings. (Sauce can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.)