Saturday, January 31, 2009

Chocolate-cherry bread pudding is for Valentine's Day

Who couldn’t help notice, starting right after the Christmas holidays, the profusion of red stuff peeking out from shelves in supermarkets, pharmacies, and book stores? We’d hardly had time to put the decorations away when we were bombarded with another reason to celebrate.

But now we’re getting in the mood for Valentine’s Day, which will be here before we know it. For me, the best part of that day is that it’s one more opportunity to feast on chocolate. (Not that we need a reason…) Chocolate kisses wrapped in red foil, assorted chocolates in a big red heart box, and those chocolate covered cherries doused in a lovely liqueur. Just for starters.

So when I spotted this recipe recently, it had Valentine’s Day written all over it. This bread pudding is made from rich croissants, and the custard is studded with chocolate chips and cherries – who could resist this special sweet? It’s from a wonderful cookbook by the name of Upper Crusts - Capital Lifestyles by Sheilah Kaufman, culinary instructor and author of 25 cookbooks. Subtitled: Fabulous Ways to Use Bread. So of course she had to include bread pudding!

In the next few posts, in addition to some other great puddings, we hope to bombard you with recipes for luscious bread puddings to serve for Valentine’s Day. And they just might include chocolate. Here’s to sweet romance!!


1 teaspoon butter

3 stale croissants
1/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
1/3 cup dried cherries
1/3 cup sugar
1 cup cream
2 large eggs
1 tablespoon Cassis or vanilla extract

Generously butter a 9x9-inch baking dish.
Cut croissants into 1/2-inch pieces (as best you can) and scatter cubes, chips and cherries into prepared dish.In large bowl, whisk together sugar, cream, eggs and Cassis until sugar dissolves. Pour sugar/cream mixture through sieve into prepared baking dish. Gently push down cubes so that they absorb egg mixture. Cover and refrigerate for 30 minutes.*
Preheat oven to 350°.
Bake for 30 minutes or until center is puffy and golden. Serve hot.
* If in a rush, skip chilling. Instead pour only half the egg mixture in, push down to absorb; wait 5 minutes before pouring on some more but not all, leaving tops of cubes just above the liquid line. Serves 6.
Approximate nutrients per serving: calories, 395; protein 6 g; carbohydrates, 36 g; fat, 26 g; cholesterol, 144 mg; sodium; 188 mg.
(From Upper Crusts - Capital Lifestyles by Sheilah Kaufman, © 2007)

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Pineapple bread pudding is tropical delight in January

It’s snowing like crazy here. The wet flakes sting your face, and the wind takes your breath away, and your fingers tingle inside your gloves. When ‘the weather outside is frightful,’ as the old song goes, we dream of far-off lands where the sun shines, and the beaches beckon, and the skies are blue. We can only picture ourselves on a Hawaiian island, sampling the luscious tropical fruits. But instead we'll have to settle for a fragrant pineapple bread pudding. Today’s recipe comes from a couple of gals who live where you don’t have to wear layers of thick clothing and heavy boots each time you venture out - Anne in Texas, and Marlene in Arizona.

They got this recipe from a friend in Maine who claims “this one is sure to please, and has flavors to rave about, and has less fat and calories than you would imagine, and is fit for you and is fit for yours.” It doesn’t get much better than that. And anyone in Maine is probably fantasizing about warmer climates now also. Ayup.


6 slices raisin, white, wheat, or oatmeal bread, cut in cubes

1 can (about 15-ounce) pineapple with syrup, cut-up (can use sugar-free)
1/2 cup golden raisins, chopped
2 eggs, beaten
1 cup buttermilk
1/2 cup sugar( can use sugar substitute, or half and half sugar and sugar substitute)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray 2-quart glass baking pan heavily. Add bread cubes. Drain pineapple, reserving liquid. Add pineapple and raisins to bread mixture. Beat eggs with buttermilk, sugar, spices, vanilla, salt, and reserved pineapple juice. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread. Cover and bake 1/2 hour. Turn down heat to 350 degrees F. and bake 20 minutes longer, uncovered, or until pudding is set and tests done. Serves 4.
(310 calories per serving provided you use sugar substitute and fat-free products)

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Honey oatmeal bread makes superb bread pudding

In honor of January being Wheat Bread Month (who invents these things anyhow?), we’re including a recipe for a special bread made with oatmeal, honey, and whole wheat flour. Not that we need a reason to post this recipe, which we made into a glorious bread last week. We’ve been enjoying it toasted and topped with butter, sliced thin for sandwiches, and in the Morning Glory Muffin bread pudding, which was the topic of yesterday’s article.

The King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook, the source of the recipe, describes the loaf as “moist and relatively close-textured, perfect for sandwiches.” The recipe also suggests a cinnamon-swirl filling, but we think it’s great just as is. No frills or fancy stuff. I didn’t add the chopped nuts either.

And, in the interests of buying local - for the honey I used 100 percent pure honey that’s gathered and bottled and sold right here in our little seashore island town. In fact, it comes from my neighbor across the street. Now you can’t get more local than that! They call it ‘The Perfect Swarm’ and it’s lovely. Wish they could bottle the aroma also.


1-1/4 cups (10 ounces) boiling water
1 cup (3-1/2 ounces old-fashioned rolled oats
2 tablespoons (1 ounce) unsalted butter, cut into 3 pieces
1-1/2 teaspoons salt
1/4 cup (3 ounces) honey
1 cup (4 ounces) traditional whole wheat flour
1-2/3 cups (7 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour
1/4 cup (1 ounce) nonfat dry milk
1/2 cup (1-7/8 ounces) finely chopped pecans or walnuts (optional)
2 teaspoons instant yeast

Place boiling water, oats, butter, salt and honey into medium bowl, stir, and let mixture cool to lukewarm.
Mix remaining dough ingredients with oat mixture, and knead – by hand, mixer, or bread machine – until you’ve made a soft smooth dough. Place dough in lightly-greased bowl, cover it, and let rise for 1 hour; the dough should be doubled in bulk.
Lightly grease 9x5-inch loaf pan. Gently deflate dough – it will be sticky, so oil your hands – and shape into 9-inch log. Place in prepared pan. Cover gently with lightly greased plastic wrap or a proof cover, and allow to rise till it’s crowned 1-1/2-inches over rim of pan, about 1 to 1-1/2 hours. Near end of bread’s rising time, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Uncover and bake bread for about 45 minutes, tenting it with foil after 20 minutes to prevent over-browning. Bread is done when golden brown and instant-read thermometer inserted in center registers 190 degrees F. Remove from oven, and after a minute or so turn out onto rack. Brush with melted butter, if desired; this will keep crust soft. Cool bread completely before cutting.
(Recipe from King Arthur Flour Whole Grain Baking, (c) 2006, Countryman Press)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Bread pudding is morning glory muffin wannabe

In a creative frame of mind? We had fun today making up a bread pudding version of our favorite breakfast goodie, the Morning Glory Muffin. We took a basic recipe and ran with it, adding golden raisins, coconut, grated carrots, pecans, sunflower seeds, and spices to some leftover whole wheat bread made with honey and oatmeal. We’d made the bread the other day from a recipe in the King Arthur Whole Grain Baking cookbook. (And trust me, this bread is so good, that not much is EVER left over. I’ll post the bread recipe tomorrow in the My Favorite Bread Recipes section of this blog.)

If I say so myself (no modesty genes kicking in here…), this is one of the very best bread puddings I’ve ever had. Do you hear an echo? Have I said this before? You betcha! I plan to enjoy it for dessert tonight, and there’s a good chance I’ll munch on it with my morning coffee tomorrow.

Ingredient details: You can use whatever kind of milk or cream you have on hand. I used one percent milk, and believe it or not, the results were incredibly rich. I’d suggest using a dense bread for this recipe, rather than a soft commercial bread, for a more muffin-like texture.


2 slices dense whole wheat bread or oatmeal bread, buttered and cubed (1-1/2 to 2 cups)
1/4 cup golden raisins
1/4 cup sweetened flaked coconut
1/4 cup chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup peeled and grated carrots
1 tablespoon sunflower seeds
2 large eggs
1-1/2 cups milk
1/3 cup brown sugar, packed
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
Dash salt

In greased or cooking-sprayed 1-1/2-quart baking dish (or square glass pan) combine bread cubes, raisins, coconut, chopped nuts, grated carrots, and sunflower seeds. In medium bowl, whisk together eggs and milk. Add brown sugar, vanilla, spices, and salt; whisk to combine. Pour over bread mixture and press bread down into liquid. Let stand while you preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until pudding is set. Serves 6 to 9, depending on size of portions. Top with cream cheese icing if desired, or whipped topping of choice.
(Recipe developed by Portia Little © 2009)

Monday, January 12, 2009

Chocolate bread pudding is always in season

So enough of the diet already! We’re sick and tired of watching our calories. We need CHOCOLATE. No frills or fancy stuff. Just any good chocolate will do. Preferably of the darker sweet variety, but hey we’re not picky – we’ll accept whatever falls onto our path. Or candy dish as the case may be.

And a very, although belated, Happy New Year to all my friends in Bread Pudding Land! Thanks so much to all of you who’ve contributed so many wonderful recipes and also made comments. To celebrate the New Year, and also our chocolate craving, here’s a recipe for chocolate bread pudding that swims in a scrumptious bourbon pecan caramel sauce. If we’re going to dive in, this is where we want to be. The pudding has almost a fudge texture. Need we say more?
Thanks to Pepe in New Orleans for suggesting this great bread pudding!


Sauce ingredients:
1-1/4 cups sugar
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup light corn syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1-1/4 cups whipping cream
1 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons bourbon

Pudding ingredients:
2 cups milk (do not use low-fat or nonfat)
2 cups whipping cream
1 cup sugar
8 oz. Scharffen Berger 62% Semisweet Chocolate, chopped
8 large eggs
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1 (1 lb.) unsliced egg bread, crusts removed, trimmed, cut into 1-inch pieces

Directions for sauce:
Stir sugar and water in heavy large saucepan over medium heat until sugar dissolves. Mix in corn syrup and lemon juice. Increase heat and boil without stirring until syrup turns deep amber, brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan occasionally. Remove from heat. Pour in cream (mixture will bubble up). Stir over low heat until caramel is melted and smooth. Increase heat; boil until sauce is reduced to 1-2/3 cups, stirring often, about 4 minutes. Remove from heat. Mix in pecans and bourbon. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and chill. Rewarm before using.)
Directions for pudding:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Combine milk, cream, and sugar in heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir until sugar dissolves and mixture comes to a boil. Remove from heat. Add chocolate; stir until smooth. Beat eggs and vanilla in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk in chocolate mixture. Add bread cubes. Let stand until bread absorbs some of custard, stirring occasionally, about 30 minutes.
Transfer mixture to 13x9x2-inch dish. Cover with foil. Bake until set in center, about 45 minutes. Uncover, cool at least 15 minutes. Serve pudding warm or at room temperature with warm sauce.
(Recipe by Chef Alison Barshak, chef/owner of Alison at Blue Bell, a suburban Philadelphia bistro)

Basic bread pudding is great start to the new year

January seems to bring out the “let’s pick up the mess from last year” kind of thinking. We’re sorting out closets, tossing out as much as we can part with. But certainly NOT bread pudding recipes. They seem to be growing like piles of New England snow here in the kitchen. We’re making room on our shelves for even more – ones we’ve clipped from magazines, books, and pamphlets, and printed out from the Internet.

It’s time also to get back to the basics – apple crisp, meatloaf, macaroni and cheese. And before we take off on some tangents with new and creative bread puddings, it’s time to check out a basic recipe. That’s where it all begins – then you can toss in handfuls of this and that (fruit, nuts, marshmallows, butterscotch sauce, spices, and yes, of course, chocolate). Here’s a basic formula that you can use to take off and have fun with. We’re talking sweet bread pudding here. If you’d like to create a hearty non-sweet bread pudding, you can just eliminate the sugar or sweetener, and add some cheese, veggies, or other hearty ingredients.

And if you’d like to add or subtract from the basic, well that’s the whole idea. For a more custardy bread pudding, which is the kind I prefer actually, just increase the ratio of liquids to solids. And of course, do the reverse, more bread and “stuff” and fewer wet ingredients for a denser pudding. The kind of bread you use makes a difference too – a denser grainy bread, such as wheat or rye, will take longer to absorb the liquid, so you might want to let it sit for a while before baking. Have fun!


4 cups (about) cubed day-old bread
1/2 to 3/4 cup of fruit, nuts, or whatever you’d like to add
3 large eggs
1/2 cup sugar, or to taste
2 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon ground spice such as cinnamon
1 tablespoon butter
Sugar/cinnamon mix

Place bread cubes along with 1/2 to 3/4 cup of any fruit (and/or other ingredients such as nuts) in greased or cooking-sprayed 1-1/2-quart baking dish. In bowl, whisk together eggs and sugar. Add milk and cinnamon (or preferred spice) and whisk in to blend well. Pour egg mixture evenly over bread, pushing down bread into liquid. Dot with slivers of butter, and sprinkle with sugar/cinnamon, if desired. Let stand while preheating oven to 350 degrees F.
Bake for 45 to 60 minutes, or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Serve warm with whipped cream or topping of choice. Serves 6.
Note: For a non-sweet bread pudding, eliminate the sugar and cinnamon, and add your favorite hearty ingredients, such as cheese, veggies, and meat.
(Recipe developed by Portia Little © 2009)

Friday, January 9, 2009

Low-cal bread pudding features ham, spinach and Gruyere cheese

After we catch our breath from the holiday hoopla, we plan to give a brunch party, inviting some neighbors and friends who we didn’t get to see last month. And knowing that people are watching their calories, we’re on the lookout for recipes that won’t strain the waistline, but are still full of flavor.

Today’s recipe is at the top of our list. No reason not to keep on feasting, even when trying to trim calories. And believe it or not, today’s dish, rich as it looks, has only 276 calories per serving. Yay!

Excerpted from The EatingWell Diet book, this pudding features whole grain bread and egg whites along with whole eggs, thus cutting down on the number of high-cholesterol yolks. The diet gurus suggest using a high-quality ham, which “infuses the pudding with a smoky flavor.” The aroma is divine, enhanced with Dijon mustard and fresh rosemary along with roasted red peppers. The Gruyere is used as a topping.

I bet the brunch crowd won’t believe this dish is a bread pudding!


4 large egg whites
4 large eggs
1 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
2 tablespoons freshly ground pepper
4 cups whole-grain bread, crusts removed if desired, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 1/2 pound, 4-6 slices)
5 cups chopped spinach, wilted (see tip)
1 cup diced ham steak (5 ounces)
1/2 cup chopped, jarred roasted red peppers
3/4 cup shredded Gruyere cheese

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Coat 11x7-inch glass baking dish or 2-quart casserole with cooking spray.
2. Whisk egg whites, eggs and milk in medium bowl. Add mustard, rosemary and pepper; whisk to combine.
3. Toss bread, spinach, ham and peppers in large bowl. Add egg mixture and toss to coat. Transfer to prepared baking dish and push down to compact. Cover with foil.
4. Bake until custard has set, 40 to 45 minutes. Uncover, sprinkle with cheese and continue baking until pudding is puffed and golden on top, 15 to 20 minutes more. Transfer to wire rack and cool for 15 to 20 minutes before serving. Makes 6 servings.
To make ahead: Prepare pudding through step 3; refrigerate overnight. Let stand at room temp; while oven preheats. Bake as directed.
Tip for wilting greens: Rinse greens thoroughly. Transfer to large microwave-safe bowl. Cover with plastic wrap and punch several holes in it. Microwave on High until wilted, 2 to 3 minutes. Squeeze out any excess moisture from greens before adding to recipe.
(Per serving: 276 calories; 10 g fat (4 g sat, 3 g mono); 169 mg cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 21 g protein; 3 g fiber; 746 mg sodium; 422 mg potassium)
(Recipes from The EatingWell Diet, © 2007 by Eating Well, Inc. Countryman Press
. Order the book from Countryman Press, or call 1-800-245-4151.)

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Banana eggnog bread pudding is low-cal, believe it or not

No one enjoyed bread pudding more than our good friend and cookbook author JoAnna Lund, who created so many luscious recipes that are also low in fat, sugar, calories, and cholesterol. In fact, she remarked about this recipe: “I never saw a dessert disappear so fast as when I was testing this one!”

Can’t beat that kind of endorsement!
This is for those who are still in a holiday eggnog kind of mood.


2 4-serving packages JELL-O sugar-free vanilla cook-and-serve pudding mix
4 cups skim milk
1/2 cup raisins
1-1/2 teaspoons rum extract
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
12 slices reduced-calorie white bread, cubed
1 cup (1 medium) sliced banana
1 tablespoon Brown Sugar Twin
1 tablespoon reduced-calorie margarine

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. spray 8x8-inch baking dish with butter-flavored cooking spray. In large saucepan sprayed with butter-flavored cooking spray, combine 1 package dry pudding mix and 2-1/2 cups skim milk. Add raisins. Mix well to combine. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture starts to boil. Remove saucepan from heat. Stir in 1/2 teaspoon rum extract and nutmeg. Add bread cubes and banana. Mix gently to combine. Spread bread mixture into prepared pan.
Bake 35-45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. In medium saucepan, combine remaining package dry pudding mix, remaining 1-1/2 cups skim milk, and Brown Sugar Twin. Mix well to combine. Let set until 5 minutes before bread pudding has completely baked. Then, cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and starts to boil. Lower heat. Add margarine and remaining 1 teaspoon rum extract. Mix to combine. Continue cooking on low until bread pudding has completed baking, stirring occasionally. Remove baking dish from oven and cut warm bread pudding into 6 servings. For each serving, place piece of bread pudding on serving dish and spoon about 1/4 cup warm rum sauce over top. Serves 6.
Each serving equals: 233 Calories; 1 g Fat; 12 g Protein; 44 g Carbohydrate; 427 g Sodium; 1 g Fiber.
Diabetic exchanges: 1 Starch; 1 Fruit; 1 Skim Milk.
(Recipe from Cooking Healthy with a Man in Mind by JoAnna Lund, 1997)

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Berry bread pudding is low-cal new-year sweet

I want on a baking binge during the holiday season. Breads, cakes, pies, cookies, and of course bread pudding too. We’re just finishing up the last tin of Christmas cookies. So it’s time for the “D” word. As in “dreaded,” “despicable,” and “disgusting.” We’re referring to the Diet, of course. Time to work on shedding those extra pounds. Not easy, especially when you enjoy baking and sweets as much as I do.

We took out our “lite” and low-cal cookbooks that sit on the shelf and whose pages rarely see the light of day. And surprisingly there were a bunch of great-looking bread puddings. So here goes. Today’s recipe, which is fragrant with fresh strawberries, raspberries, and spices, comes from Lighthearted Everyday Cooking by Anne Lindsay. The author says she likes this dessert because “it isn’t too sweet or rich but has fabulous flavor.” She suggests topping each serving with a spoonful of Quick Lemon Yogurt Sauce, the recipe for which is included below.

While this recipe calls for soft margarine, unless it’s the healthful non-hydrogenated kind, I’d opt to use real butter because of the trans-fats issue.


Half a large loaf French bread
1-1/2 cups low-fat milk
1/2 cup granulated sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 teaspoon each nutmeg and cinnamon
1 cup chopped strawberries
1 cup raspberries
2 eggs, beaten
1 tablespoon soft margarine (non-hydrogenated)

Tear bread into 1-inch pieces to make 6 cups. In bowl, combine milk, sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon; stir in bread and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in strawberries, raspberries, and eggs.
Meanwhile, in 8-inch square baking dish, melt margarine in 350-degree F. oven; swirl to cover bottom of pan. Pour in batter. Bake for 40 minutes or until puffed and browned. Serve warm. Makes 6 servings.
(Per serving without lemon yogurt sauce: 298 calories; 6 g total fat; 2 g saturated fat; 2 g fiber)
(Recipe from Lighthearted Everyday Cooking by Anne Lindsay, 1994)


3/4 cup low-fat yogurt
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
Grated rind 1 lemon

In small bowl, combine yogurt, sugar and lemon rind. Cover and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Makes 3/4 cup.
(Per 2-tablespoon serving: 36 calories; trace grams of total fat, saturated fat, and fiber; 2 mg cholesterol)
(Recipe from Lighthearted Everyday Cooking by Anne Lindsay, 1994)