When I was a kid I didn’t like bread pudding. My Mom would make it for dessert sometimes, and it was always my sister’s favorite thing ever. If I had a choice about dessert, I’d probably have opted for popcorn. I’m that kind of salt fiend.
I’ve learned to enjoy the sweet stuff more over time. Although even here, I’m using a hefty dose of semi-savory peanut butter to make this my favorite bread pudding. It’s a little more solid than I remember Mom’s being, too, which helps me deal with my particular neurosis about liquid food. It turns out my mother had a lot to deal with in terms of food neuroses when we were kids. Sorry about that, Mom.
You may notice that I failed to include chocolate in this particular peanut butter recipe. There are two reasons for that. First of all, I really wanted it to be all about the peanut butter, including a healthy dose of peanut butter chips. If we’d had any in the apartment, I would have tossed in a handful of roasted salted peanuts as well. We didn’t have any, because they don’t last long with salt fiends in the apartment. The second reason is that if it’s not ungodly hot out, you should eat these with the best hot chocolate in the world. When it is this hot out, a nice cold glass of milk (or chocolate milk!) is preferable.
Ingredients (makes 4 “individual” servings, which in reality serve two each, or one big bread puddin’ to serve 4-8. Depends heavily on appetite and sweet tooth.)
4 thick slices of day-old challah, or other bread of your choice.
about 1/4 cup peanut butter
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1 T vanilla
1/2 cup to 1 cup peanut butter chips, optional
1/2 cup to 1 cup roasted peanuts, optional
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spread a generous amount of peanut butter over each slice of challah.
Cut the challah into cubes and arrange them either in four small ramekins or tartlet pans, or in one larger oven-safe dish.
Pour the sugar into a rather deep pot over a burner on high heat.
Try not to get impatient and over-stir the caramel as it melts. It’ll get all clumpy.
Remove from heat and immediately pour the cream/milk/vanilla mixture into it. Stand back a second–it’s gonna bubble and sputter like mad. Once the hissing and spewing subsides, whisk it a bit to cool it down.
Whisk in the eggs.
Pour the egg-caramel sauce over the bread cubes and top with peanut butter chips and peanuts, if using.
Bake at 350°F for about 20 minutes.
We shared one of these for breakfast with a big glass of milk. The next night for dessert we reheated one in the oven, slapped a great big scoop of vanilla ice cream over it, and had that with espresso. It’s not too sweet, so it’s still appropriate for breakfast, but has a powerful peanutty flavor that makes it quite memorable.