Make it yourself: Butterscotch-Ale Bread Pudding

If you couldn’t tell by now, this writer has a pretty big sweet tooth. Donuts, cookies, ice cream, I love ‘em all. One of my favorite winter desserts, by far, is homemade bread pudding. I’m not talking about that gruel-style crap with the reconstituted raisins you were fed as a tyke in preschool. Oh no, my friends. I’m talking about bread pudding made from scratch with chunks of brioche bread soaked in creme anglaise, and baked with handfuls of chocolate and butterscotch chips, vanilla and beer. Oh yes, I went there. And you’re coming with, no questions asked. So buckle-up and grab a spoon—or a fork if you’d prefer—and prepare to have your tastebuds assaulted with bread pudding decadence!

Ingredients:
2 loaves Brioche bread, fresh or day-old
1 12 fluid ounces Dark ale or Porter/Stout beer
¾ cup Chocolate chips
¾ cup Butterscotch chips
2 cups Heavy cream
1 cup Granulated sugar, white
1 teaspoon Vanilla extract (see last week’s blog for homemade vanilla extract)
1 tablespoon Kosher salt, or 1 teaspoon iodized salt
¼ tablespoon Nutmeg, ground
½ tablespoon Cinnamon, ground
6 Egg yolks, separated

Utensils:
1 Medium saucepan
1 Small saucepan
1 Large mixing bowl
2 Medium mixing bowls
1 Wire whisk
1 Silicon or high-heat resistant spatula
1 Chef’s/Kitchen knife
1 Set measuring spoon
1 Set measuring cups
1 Baking/cookie sheet pan
4 Ceramic or oven-safe ramekins (little bowls) (400 degrees Fahrenheit-plus)

Prep Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Cook Time: 1 hour 15 minutes
Servings: 4-6, depending on ramekin size

Directions (anglaise):
1. Pour the beer into a small saucepan and place over medium-low heat; reduce the liquid by half and cool to room temperature (process should take 25-30 minutes).
2. In a medium saucepan heat the heavy cream over medium heat and remove when cream begins to simmer, DO NOT BOIL; remove eggs from refrigerator to bring to room temperature.
3. Place the cinnamon, nutmeg and sugar in a medium mixing bowl; separate the egg yolks from the whites and add to the bowl, whisking vigorously until the mixture becomes opaque.
4. When the cream reaches a simmer, quickly remove (leave the saucepan on the stove with the heat off) and whisk into the egg mixture in three even increments, incorporating the vanilla at the end.
5. Return the anglaise to the saucepan and continue to whisk over a medium heat, being careful not allow the anglaise to boil; return anglaise to the mixing bowl once it thickens enough to coat the back side of a spoon.
6. Continue whisking until the anglaise cools to room temperature, and cover with plastic wrap in a way that the anglaise contacts the plastic wrap, so as to prevent a film from developing on top.

Directions (bread pudding):
1. Cube the brioche into 2×2 inch cubes and place in a large mixing bowl and toss with the chocolate and butterscotch chips.
2. Using a spatula, fold in the anglaise and the beer reduction until the bread is evenly coated with both liquids; cover the bread pudding with plastic wrap and let soak for 1 hour, mixing the ingredients once at the 30-minute mark.
3. Preheat an oven to 375 degrees Fahrenheit and portion the bread pudding into the ramekins; place the ramekins onto the baking/cookie sheet and fill the sheet with cold water.
4. Bake for 35 minutes.
5. After the 35 minutes, remove the ramekins from the baking/cookie sheet with a pair of metal tongs and place directly on the wire rack.
6. Increase the heat to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and bake for another 10 minutes, or until the custard sets (is no longer runny); remove and cool.
*If the bread pudding becomes too dry, add 1 tablespoon of milk or cream to each ramekin and continue baking for an additional 10 minutes. Likewise, when reheating individual bread pudding in the oven, do so at 400 degrees Fahrenheit with 1 tablespoon milk or cream for 10 minutes. Serve bread pudding with your favorite ice cream or last week’s homemade chocolate ganache.