Friday, December 12, 2008

Low-fat pumpkin bread pudding is one solution to holiday over-indulgence

Trying to diet during the holidays seems hopeless. Who can resist the extra-rich treats we’re exposed to at dinners, parties, and even when we’re out and about? So to lighten up a bit, we’re offering today’s recipe for low-fat pumpkin bread pudding, which was developed by Fiona Haynes for the Guide to Low-fat Cooking. She enjoys finding ways to lighten recipes while still keeping them flavorful. In addition to developing hundreds of low-fat recipes, Fiona also writes two weekly healthy-eating newsletters.

While Fiona does prefer this dish with raisins, she suggests using dried cranberries as an alternative. Says Fiona: “One of our favorite ways of eating this pudding is with a drizzle of good-quality maple syrup, which is why this dessert would also make a pretty good brunch dish.” A great idea for these cool-weather days.

(Fiona Haynes)
Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: 45 minutes

1 10.5 ounce day-old baguette
2 cups fat-free half and half
2 eggs, lightly beaten
3/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 cup pure pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon ginger
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon cloves
3/4 cup raisins (or dried cranberries)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray 11 X 7 baking dish with nonstick cooking spray.
Cut baguette into 1 inch slices, then into cubes. Place in large bowl and cover with half and half, tossing bread cubes to allow liquid to soak in.
In medium bowl, combine beaten eggs, brown sugar, pumpkin, vanilla and spices. Add to bread mixture with raisins and blend well. Pour into baking dish and bake for 40-45 minutes.
Serves 8.
Per Serving: Calories 286, Calories from Fat 29, Total Fat 3.2g (sat 1.2g), Cholesterol 56mg, Sodium 335mg, Carbohydrate 57.2g, Fiber 1.9g, Protein 7g
(Recipe by Fiona Haynes on Low-fat Cooking)

Chocolate bread pudding is rich treat for the holidays

One thing’s for sure – you can depend on recipes you get from America’s Test Kitchen. So when I found this recipe I knew it had to be good. Their mission is to test recipes, understand how they work, and arrive at the best version.

And you can’t go wrong with ingredients such as challah bread, cream, cocoa, and semi-sweet chocolate. For those who don’t have time to do it all in one day, they suggest prepping the bread mixture and refrigerating it overnight, then baking the next day.

The folks at America’s Test Kitchen found that with the melted chocolate, the base was so thick that it wasn’t fully soaking into the bread. So to thin out the base, they soaked the toasted challah in a mixture of heavy cream, milk, and cocoa powder before adding in rich custard made with melted chocolate, egg yolks, cream, and sugar. They also suggest that you drizzle a bit of reserved chocolate sauce (melted chocolate and cream) over the warm bread pudding after it comes out of the oven. It’s important to use Dutch-based cocoa in this recipe. Natural cocoa powder will make the bread pudding too bitter.

Serves 12.

1 (12-inch) loaf challah, cut into 12-inch cubes (about 12 cups)
4 cups heavy cream
2 cups whole milk
1/2 cup Dutch processed cocoa powder
1 tablespoon instant espresso powder
1 cup sugar
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, chopped
10 large egg yolks

1. Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees F. Toast bread on baking sheet, stirring occasionally, until golden and crisp, about 30 minutes. Transfer to large bowl.
2. Increase oven temp to 325 degrees F. Grease 13x9-inch baking pan. Heat 1-1/2 cups cream, milk, cocoa, espresso, and 1/2 cup sugar in saucepan over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until steaming and sugar dissolves. Pour warm cream mixture over toasted bread and let stand, tossing occasionally, until liquid has been absorbed, about 10 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, bring additional 1 cup cream to simmer in saucepan over medium-high heat. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate until smooth. Transfer 1 cup chocolate mixture to medium bowl and let cool 5 minutes (cover pan and reserve remaining chocolate mixture for serving). Add egg yolks, remaining cream, and sugar to bowl with chocolate mixture and whisk to combine.
4. Transfer soaked bread mixture to prepared pan and pour chocolate custard mixture evenly over bread. Bake until pudding is just set and surface is slightly crisp, about 45 mijnutes. Let cool 30 minutes. Warm reserved chocolate mixture over low heat, then pour over bread pudding. Serve. (Leftover bread pudding should be refrigerated; reheat individual portions in microwave.)
Make ahead: In step 4, once soaked bread mixture has been transferred to prepared pan, the pan can be covered with plastic wrap and refrigerated overnight. When ready to bake, remove plastic and proceed with recipe as directed, increasing baking time to 55 to 60 minutes. Let reserved chocolate serving sauce cool, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Heat sauce in microwave when needed.
(Recipe 2008, America’s Test Kitchen;

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Buttery bourbon sauce tops bread pudding that's healthier

Watching calories this time of year? Ha! That’s some kind of joke.

But occasionally a great-sounding recipe comes up that’s a healthier version of a traditional rich sweet. Bread pudding topped with a buttery bourbon sauce? Healthy? Well actually this version, made with Smart Balance® products – the Butter Blend stick, and also their fat-free milk – as well as whole grain bread, is lower in fat than the traditional hi-cal dessert. It’s delicious too, laced with dried cranberries and with the scent of cinnamon and vanilla.

This pudding would be a great ending to a holiday party, or just to snack on while wrapping those gifts.
And, please note, I have no relationship with the company that produces Smart Balance® products.
So there.


1-1/2 tablespoons Smart Balance® butter Blend Stick, melted
2 cups Smart Balance™ Fat-Free Milk*
2 eggs
1 egg white
1 tablespoon vanilla
1/2 cup sugar
1-1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1-1/2 ounces multigrain or whole wheat Italian bread, torn in small pieces

1/4 cup Smart Balance® Butter Blend Stick
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons Smart Balance™ Fat-Free Milk*
3 tablespoons bourbon or apple juice
1 teaspoon vanilla

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat 11x7-inch glass baking dish with Smart Balance® cooking spray; add 1-1/2 tablespoons melted Smart Balance® Butter Blend Stick and set aside.
2. Combine milk, eggs, egg white, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, and baking powder in large bowl. Whisk until well blended. Add bread and cranberries; gently stir to allow mixture to absorb slightly (do not over mix).
3. Pour mixture into baking dish and bake, uncovered, 35-40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.
4. Meanwhile, combine remaining ingredients, except vanilla, in small saucepan; place over medium heat until sugar is dissolved. Remove from heat, stir in vanilla.
5. Cut bread pudding into 8 pieces, place on dessert plates, and spoon sauce evenly over all.
Makes 11x7-inch bread pudding plus 1/2 cup sauce total. Serves 8 (about 2-1/2-inch by 3-1/2-inch pieces plus 1 tablespoon sauce per serving.
*Smart Balance™ Fat-Free Milk is available in Florida and Georgia.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Chocolate bread pudding season is here!

There are those of us who just can’t get enough chocolate. We celebrate this time of year when we can indulge in our favorite desserts, cookies, cakes, pies, and sauces. Guilt trip? We’ll deal with that tomorrow.

Use a good brand of semi-sweet chocolate to add to these cute little puddings that are baked in individual ramekins. Make the cappuccino sauce ahead of time and keep in the fridge until you’re ready to let the little darlings swim in the sauce on the plate. The folks at Chocolatier magazine suggest the option of topping them off with a chocolate sorbet. But I like them just as is with the sauce. Not that there could ever be too much chocolate …

Yield: 8 servings

Chocolate bread pudding:
4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate, chopped
1/3 cup granulated sugar, divided
1/2 cup heavy cream
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 large eggs, separated
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
5 slices fresh firm-textured white bread, such as Pepperidge Farm, cut into 1/2-inch cubes, to yield approximately 3 1/2 cups

Cappuccino Sauce:
1 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon instant espresso powder
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 large egg yolks, at room temperature
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
Chocolate sorbet for garnish (optional)

Bread pudding:
Preheat oven to 350 F. Lightly butter bottoms and sides of eight ceramic ramekins or custard cups. Coat with granulated sugar.
Combine chopped chocolate, half of the sugar, heavy cream and butter in small heavy saucepan over low heat. Stir until chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth. Transfer to large bowl and let cool to room temperature, stirring occasionally. Whisk in egg yolks and vanilla.
Beat egg whites in medium bowl until soft peaks form, using electric mixer at medium speed. Slowly add remaining sugar, beating at high speed. Beat until stiff peaks form. Fold egg whites into chocolate mixture.
Gently fold in bread cubes. Divide mixture evenly among the prepared ramekins. Place in large baking pan. Add enough hot water to fill halfway up sides of ramekins.
Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until a knife inserted into center of a pudding comes out clean. Place ramekins on wire rack to cool slightly.

Cappuccino sauce:
Heat heavy cream in small heavy saucepan over low heat until it comes to a gentle boil. Whisk in espresso powder and cinnamon. Let cool slightly. Whisk egg yolks with sugar in mixing bowl. Slowly whisk in hot cream mixture. Return mixture to saucepan and cook over low heat for 4 minutes, stirring constantly, or until sauce thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Remove from heat. Cover surface with plastic wrap. Let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate until serving time.
To serve: Unmold pudding on dessert plate and surround with cappuccino sauce. Top with a scoop of chocolate sorbet, if desired.
(Recipe © Chocolatier magazine via the Pastry Whiz website,