Monday, September 8, 2008

Slow cooker white chocolate bread pudding is hot in the heat

We ushered in Hurricane Hanna here the other day, fortunately with just a small ‘poof’ of wind and a steamy, warm day. But it was perfect weather for trying out a bread pudding in the slow cooker - not adding any more heat to the house. This pudding came all the way from Arizona, sent by my Internet buddy, Marlene Shillington. She thought this dish, with its white chocolate, colorful dried fruit such as cranberries or cherries, and brandy, would make a wonderful holiday dessert. But no way were we going to wait that long to try this sweet delicacy.

Marlene found the recipe on Sunday Dinner Club, a group on the Web devoted to good food and recipes. And, while she was contemplating making it with a quick bread, such as a cranberry/banana or cinnamon bread, I decided to just go with the recipe as is – my freezer is bulging with leftover Italian bread that screams “Lemme outa here,” each time I open the door.

It was a snap to put together and, unlike some slow cooker bread puddings, which take many hours to cook, this one was ready in just under two hours. I plumped the dried cherries in brandy, then added them to the first layer of bread – I didn’t bother to drain them - why waste a good thing? I served the pudding topped with additional chopped white chocolate, some dried cherries on the side, and whipped cream. It was very fine for breakfast as well.


1/3 cup dried cherries or dried cranberries
3 tablespoon brandy or bourbon
1 (3-ounce) bar white chocolate (a high-quality brand, such as Tobler or Lindt)
2 tablespoons butter
6 cups stale French bread cubes
4 eggs
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup half-and-half
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Soak cherries or cranberries in brandy (or juice) for at least one hour, until plumped. Coarsely chop the chocolate bar. Meanwhile, bring all remaining ingredients to room temperature. Generously butter crockery insert of a 3-1/2-quart slow cooker. Cover bottom with half of bread cubes; then scatter with half of drained cherries and chopped chocolate. Layer on remaining bread cubes, and top with rest of cherries and chocolate. Whisk eggs and sugar until smooth; then whisk in half-and-half and vanilla until well-blended. Carefully pour over bread mixture, gently pressing down on bread to moisten all cubes. Cook on high for 1-3/4 hours, without lifting lid, until set and puffed. Serve warm or at room temperature. Makes 6 servings.
(Recipe from Sunday Dinner Club on Yahoo groups on the Web.)
Portia's note: I didn't bring the ingredients to room temp, as suggested in this recipe. It came out fine.

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