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Celebrate with banana-bourbon bread pudding

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed. The Associated Press
Monday, February 18, 2013 - 1:15 pm

Bananas Foster and bread pudding are two of the most popular desserts in New Orleans.

So in honor of the over-the-top nature of Mardi Gras, we decided to take a more-is-better approach and combine them into one.

We topped a simple baked banana-pecan bread pudding with a classic hard sauce — including a healthy dose of bourbon, of course — which becomes a gooey icing that melts into the dessert and hardens as it cools.

If that’s not your style, the dessert would be equally delicious topped with a scoop of butter pecan ice cream. Or both.

Banana-bourbon bread pudding

Start to finish: 1 hour

Servings: 16

For the bread pudding:

1 loaf (about 14 ounces) banana bread, cubed

4 cups (8 ounces) cubed French or Italian bread

2 very ripe bananas, mashed

3 eggs

1 cup sugar

3 cups milk, hot

1 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

1/2 cup pecans, toasted and chopped

For the bourbon hard sauce:

1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened

2 cups powdered sugar, sifted

1/4 cup bourbon

Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking pan with cooking spray.

On a rimmed baking sheet, arrange the cubed banana and French or Italian breads in an even layer. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes, or until lightly toasted. Set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the mashed bananas, eggs and sugar. While whisking, pour in the hot milk, then add the vanilla and allspice. Gently mix in the toasted bread cubes and pecans, then spoon the mixture into the prepared pan. Bake until puffed and cooked through, about 25 to 35 minutes.

Meanwhile, prepare the sauce. In a medium bowl, use an electric mixer to beat the butter until smooth and soft. Add the powdered sugar and beat until well incorporated. Add the bourbon and stir until smooth. Set aside.

When the bread pudding has finished baking, dollop the hard sauce over the surface, spreading it as necessary to allow it to melt evenly over the surface. Serve the bread pudding warm.

Per serving: 340 calories; 120 calories from fat (35 percent of total calories); 14 g fat (6 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 65 mg cholesterol; 48 g carbohydrate; 1 g fiber; 25 g sugar; 6 g protein; and 200 mg sodium.