If you’ve ever stepped foot in a Southern restaurant to stock up on a belly full of Creole, Cajun, or down-home Southern classics, the dessert menu you generally wave off likely featured a centuries-old staple — bread pudding.
No, not that pudding you may be thinking of: the porridge-like concoction you see in holiday movies. No, this is a rich, custardy nostalgia-inducing sweet treat that can get as fancy — or as basic — as you’d like.
What started as a way to find a use for leftover bread scraps has evolved into comfort food in many parts of the country, especially around the holidays. You won’t have to put on a blazer or cocktail dress and head to a fancy restaurant for buttery brioche bread, rum-soaked raisins, and fancy sauces to get your fix. We devised a simple, yet elegant, way to impress your holiday party with a spin on an old classic.
And the best part is you can find most of these ingredients in your kitchen. After all, bread pudding is the ultimate use-whatever-you-have-in-the-pantry moment that is perfect for trying new flavors.
Bread pudding comes in many shapes and sizes. You can go the savory, brunch route with meats, cheeses, and vegetables or stick to dessert with pillowy-soft bread and a sugary custard full of warm, cozy flavors like vanilla and cinnamon.
Our version takes many twists and turns. For starters, we ditched the traditional bread and swapped in JOY Waffle Cones. Why? Just hear us out. The crispy cones work in unison with the custard, mainly because they take on the same role stale, crusty bread does as a vessel to soak up the eggy liquid.
That wasn’t enough, though, so we put a spin on those pralines Grandma used to make around the holidays and turned it into a topping. What’s not to like about brown sugar, butter, and pecans? To top it off, we executed a perfectly simple white chocolate sauce for drizzling.
Preheat the oven to 350°. Carefully break each waffle cone by hand into bite-sized pieces, about 2 inches wide. Scatter the cone pieces in a buttered 8×8 baking dish and set aside.
In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy then beat in the sugar until combined. To finish the custard, stir in the milk, vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, and ground nutmeg until combined.
Pour the custard over the waffle cone pieces and mix until the cone pieces are completed coated. Sprinkle in the white chocolate chips. Gently press down with your palms, or the back of a large spoon, to submerge the cones and white chocolate chips and set aside for at least 20-30 minutes to allow the custard to absorb.
While the bread pudding sits, make the praline topping. In a saucepan, heat the butter and brown sugar on low until it begins to bubble, stirring frequently. Add the chopped pecans and continue mixing until it thickens, about 5 minutes. Set aside to cool.
Place the praline topping evenly over the custard mixture, ensuring all areas are covered. Press down gently to remove any air pockets.
Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the pudding is puffy, firm, and no liquid remains. Allow it to cool for at least 30 minutes, although overnight in the refrigerator is best.
Prepare the white chocolate sauce as the bread pudding cools. Heat the half and half in a saucepan on low until it begins to bubble. Turn off the heat and whisk in the white chocolate and butter until the chocolate melts and the sauce thickens, about 1-2 minutes.
Cut the bread pudding into squares when you’re ready to serve. If refrigerated, reheat individual pieces in the microwave for 30 seconds. Drizzle each square with the white chocolate sauce and enjoy!
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