Thursday, December 29, 2011

Panettone Bread Pudding!

Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce
I discovered a light, airy, buttery, fruit-studded bread/cake-of-sorts several years ago, known the world round as Panettone.  An Italian staple and delicacy, it happened upon my food scene in a memorable way--and has never left.  

Panettone becomes readily available as the holiday season unfolds, almost like the perfect harbinger to all the delectable bites that lie ahead during this time of the year.  It's so wonderful that it needs no extra handling to enjoy its sweet goodness, and I typically start off the season on this note, enjoying mini-sized Panettone for snacking and toast, as I anticipate the sure-to-come ultimate indulgence of this treasure: my Panettone bread pudding.

I began serving this bread pudding during holiday gatherings years ago, and it has become a favorite tradition of mine to share with friends and family.  (I've even gifted Panettone loaves with recipe cards to hard-core fans.)  And with the typical ease that comes with making a bread pudding, the payoff is huge: wow appeal coupled with truly good eating.  I like that kind of return in any endeavor, especially one so near to my heart--and taste buds.  

Now, I'm excited to share my tradition with you.  Enjoy & Happy Eating!

P.S. I'd love to know what makes your holidays special.

Panettone Bread Pudding

1 pound Panettone, cut into 1-inch cubes
5 eggs
3/4 cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
2 cups milk
2 cups heavy cream
1/3 cup almond slices

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Butter a 9-by-13 inch baking dish.

Spread the bread cubes out on a large baking sheet and toast in the oven until golden, about 10 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, vanilla and almond extracts.  Slowly whisk in the milk and cream until well blended.  Stir in the bread cubes and let stand to absorb the custard, 10-15 minutes.  Stir again, then transfer the bread mixture to the prepared baking dish.  Sprinkle almond slices on top.

Bake until a knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean, 45 to 50 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool for at least 5 minutes.  Serve warm or at room temperature.
Recipe adapted from Williams-Sonoma  

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