Seize the Day: Decadently Tender Croissant Bread Pudding Recipe

Decadently Tender Croissant Bread Pudding Recipe on http://www.theculinarylife.com
World, I’d like to introduce you to my dear friend, my favorite croissant bread pudding recipe. But first, a few words on life.

Last Sunday, I had a birthday. I won’t share how many years I’ve seen float by from my seat on the river bank of time, but I will tell you this: I had the stark realization that my life has changed an awful lot over the past seven months, more than it’s changed in any short period prior. Nearly everything I knew a year ago is completely different now. Living situation, marital status, career track, you name it. Basically, life as I knew it for the preceding six years has completely failed to exist.

That’s not to say I’ve had a bad time of it – quite the contrary, actually. In truth, all of these changes are based on decisions that I made consciously, with my eyes and heart wide open. I knew where I wanted to be in life, and in order to get there, I had to do some serious rearranging of the core elements that made up my day-to-day existence. Sure it hurt, and at times I thought the pain was going to do me in. But when has change ever been easy?

I’m going to risk becoming a cliche and quote one of my favorite poets and authors, Rainier Maria Rilke. Letters to a Young Poet, a collection of letters he wrote to then 19-year old Franz Kappus, was a welcome flashlight during some of my darkest periods:

“Why do you want to shut out of your life any uneasiness, any misery, any depression, since after all you don’t know what work these conditions are doing inside you? Why do you want to persecute yourself with the question of where all this is coming from and where it is going? Since you know, after all, that you are in the midst of transitions and you wished for nothing so much as to change. If there is anything unhealthy in your reactions, just bear in mind that sickness is the means by which an organism frees itself from what is alien; so one must simply help it to be sick, to have its whole sickness and to break out with it, since that is the way it gets better.”

Over the past few years, I’ve learned to do more than accept change – I’ve learned to embrace it. To celebrate it. To understand that even though times may be tough, I have to live in the moment and breathe through every one of those difficult seconds, thankful just to be alive. Because the alternative? Yeah… no thanks.

I’ve dealt with my fair share of adversity, but I’d also count myself lucky in a lot of ways. I am the recipient of countless blessings, in the form of both privelege and the people who care about me. I’ve managed to reclaim my health, sustain my optimism, and maintain my sanity (though some would argue the latter). I’ve traveled all over the world, seen things people only dream of, and I know that in the not-so-distant future, I’ll get to have even more heart-pounding experiences to top the ones I’ve already had.

Most importantly, I know at any given moment that I can and do love, and am very much loved in return. It took me many years of beating my head into a wall of self-loathing to figure out that love is all around me. All I had to do is open myself to it, to trust that it exists. I’d count this as one of the most important lessons of my entire life.

What does this have to do with croissant bread pudding? Let me explain. One of the most important tenets of my life is carpe diem, or “seize the day.” Life is short and the little time I have here on my slice of existence is bumpy. Who knows what will befall me when I walk out the door tomorrow, so I need to make the most of every minute, right? I think Erma Bombeck said it best:

“Seize the moment. Think of all those women on the Titanic who waved off the dessert cart.”

So for all of you out there who think that combining butter croissants and heavy cream is coronary sacrilege, I’d like to inform you that your heart has two sides. Sure, your cardiologist doesn’t want you packing on the fat grams, and she’s right. But, let me tell you that there are some things in life that are just worth taking a bite of – croissant bread pudding being one of them. One little plate of this pudding will cause you to curl your toes in ecstasy, tossing back your head in a heatwave of sheer, sweet pleasure, touching a place in your heart that no low-fat, olestra-laden dessert can come close to. No, you shouldn’t eat the whole pan, but if you were to get hit by a bus tonight, wouldn’t it be incredibly satisfying to count this as the final dish that graced your taste buds?

Seize the Day: Decadently Tender Croissant Bread Pudding Recipe
 
Author:
Recipe type: Dessert
Cuisine: French
Serves: 8
Prep time:
Cook time:
Total time:
 
I love croissants. I love bread pudding. When I had idea of putting the two together, it seemed like a work of sheer genius on my part. But after a little research, it turned out that I wasn’t the only one who had thought to combine these two concepts. Oh well, I guess I’m not a genius after all. Makes 8 servings.
Ingredients
  • 2 cups 2% milk
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar, plus more for sprinkling
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon sweet rum, such as Malibu
  • 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
  • 3 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1 large egg, at room temperature
  • 8 butter croissants, ideally stale or left out on the counter overnight (*see below for gluten-free option)
  • Optional: 1/2 cup dessert sauce of your choice, such as ganache or David’s Tangerine Butterscotch Sauce or
Instructions
  1. Warm the milk, cream, and 1/2 cup of the sugar in a medium saucepan, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Remove from heat, cover with foil or the pot’s lid, and let steep for one hour.
  2. While you are waiting for the cream mixture to steep, butter a shallow 2-quart baking dish or souffle mold.
  3. After one hour, reheat the cream mixture until it’s very warm. Whisk the yolks in a medium bowl, gradually adding the warm cream while whisking constantly to prevent scrambling the eggs.
  4. Whisk in the vanilla extract, rum and cinnamon, then pour the mixture through a strainer to remove orange zest and other lumps. Set aside.
  5. In a small bowl, combine the the sour cream and brown sugar until well mixed. Add egg and beat with a hand mixer until smooth.
  6. Cut each croissant in half lengthwise, separating the top from the bottom. Spread a spoonful of egg-sour-cream paste over each slice of croissant and place the slice in the prepared baking dish, spread-side down. Continue spreading paste on bread, and layering slices into the dish. If you are using a round dish, cut the slices in half, then layer the resulting triangles in a pinwheel pattern.
  7. Pour the egg-cream mixture over the bread and gently press down, submerging the layers in the liquid.
  8. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator overnight (or for at least an hour), pressing down occasionally to make sure the top layers of bread are soaked through. Ed note: I recommend leaving overnight for a rich, velvety-smooth pudding)
  9. Preheat oven to 350°F (170°C). If you’ve put the bread pudding in the fridge, allow it to come to room temperature before baking by placing it on the counter for at least an hour.
  10. Sprinkle the top of the bread pudding liberally with sugar. Set the baking dish in a water bath by setting it in a large roasting pan, and then filling the roaster with water until it is halfway up the sides of the pudding’s baking dish.
  11. Bake until pudding is puffed up in the center and the top is brown, about 1 hour.
  12. Let cool until warm. Serve warm, drizzled with dessert sauce.

Variations:

  • For strawberry croissant bread pudding, replace the rum with strawberry-flavored syrup, and the brown sugar with strawberry jam.

*For gluten-free croissants, here are two recipes to try:

If you like this croissant bread pudding recipe, then here are some other dishes you might like:

  • World’s Best German Chocolate Cake Recipe
  • How to Make Pastry Cream (Crème Pâtissière)
  • Gluten Free Brioche Cinnamon Rolls Recipe
  • Gluten Free Chocolate Buns Recipe

Comments

  1. Dianne Jacob says:

    Hello Stephanie, it’s brave of you to tell your story like this, and I love how positive you are about it all. You’ve come through the other side and it sounds like you’re thriving — well most of the time, anyway. That’s all a person can ask for.

    Happy Birthday, dear friend. I wish for many happy desserts and bread puddings in your future.

  2. Thanks for this — your story. I wouldn’t turn down the bread pudding, because you’re right. It’s important to take care of an occasional sweet tooth. I enjoyed your words and the connections to others’. Perfect for today.

    Happy Birthday from someone who’s looking 55 square in the eye ;)

  3. Alexandra says:

    Decadent dessert. Wish I could eat this, but my stomach would rebel. Loved your pain old bread and chocolate bread pudding though. And, by the way, this post was amazing. I’m so glad you have gotten to such a good place and wish you to stay there!

  4. You have had a rough year, but you’ve done admirably at handling it all. Happy Birthday! The bread pudding sounds amazing!!!

  5. Roxanne @ Champion of My Heart says:

    You, my darling girl, are a rock star at life. I’m so sorry this year has been a beast piled upon beasts, but I send my best, best birthday wishes … and (a pathetic whimper) that you’d post this today of all days, when I convinced myself that my culinary indulgences to cope with my own beasts have got to stop. ;o)

  6. Kris @ Attainable Sustainable says:

    Well, the recipe looks fabulous, but I loved reading your inspiring words about life change. It’s never easy, is it? And yet, you’ve managed to handle your challenges with grace and resilience and the heartfelt knowledge that you’re doing what you need to do to take care of you. Blessings.

  7. sarah henry says:

    Kudos, Steph, for being brave enough to embrace change. And I’m glad to hear that the birthday girl is thriving, despite it all.

    As for that recipe, I’m afraid to read it because it sounds just too temptingly good.

  8. Jane Boursaw says:

    Beautiful and thought-provoking, Stephanie. I’m learning how to embrace change, too. It’s not easy sometimes (most times?!), but at the same time, embracing it is much easier than trying to push it away. Much love to you.

  9. Steph, Theres an awful lot of hard-won a lot of wisdom here. Pain often teaches us what we need to know…but then again, it’s up to us to know how to deal with those lessons, isn’t it? Sounds like you’re making them work for you. May you go forward with many sweet desserts!

  10. NoPotCoooking says:

    Congrats on seizing the day in your life, and telling all the rest of us how to do it too!

  11. MyKidsEatSquid says:

    Love the thoughts you’re sharing here (I’m going to hang on to that Bombeck quote). As for the revised bread pudding–delish. I’ve had something very similar with apple slices mixed in and salted caramel ice cream on top. I could feel my heart rate rise as I ate. I can’t wait to try this.

  12. I love you, Steph, and I still think you’re a genius. Here’s to many more years of day-seizing between us!

  13. Donna Hull says:

    What a beautiful essay. Thanks for sharing your personal experiences with us. Much of what you wrote resonates with me. As someone slightly older than you :-), I try to live by your philosophy of seizing the day. It’s why I never turn down a trip idea from my travel-crazed husband. Later, we look at each other (usually while I’m sick from overdoing it) and say, “why did we pack so many activities into that trip?” But you know what? We’ll do it again…and again…because, hey, we’re old and might not wake up tomorrow. Now, I’m going to make croissant bread pudding in honor of my wise blogging friend Stephanie. Much love to you. This is going to be your year.

  14. debbie koenig says:

    Lovely, lovely, lovely–both the post and the recipe.

  15. thadeus jones says:

    oh this is just making me super hungry!!! anyways, the story, putting out your soul, so to speak, makes this entry all that more enticing..
    live for today..

    i definitely want to live to try this!

  16. Living Large says:

    This is a beautiful post and you’re right, we should all embrace change, because nothing stays the same forever. If we don’t embrace it, we will surely end up very unhappy people.
    Love the Erma Bombeck quote!

  17. Jennifer Margulis says:

    Thanks for this recipe — and your story. I miss seeing you in Ashland. Change can be so hard. But you are right, it IS good to embrace it. (and HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR!)

  18. Vera Marie Badertscher says:

    What beautiful thoughts and such wisdom for someone only ?? years old. (Surely you must be as old as Yoda to be so wise.)

    That dessert sounds simply awesome. I’ll pounce the next time the bakery has day-old croissants and make it with N’Awlins whiskey sauce.

  19. It sounds like you’ve come out of the process more connected to yourself. {I love this}

  20. Melanie @ Frugal Kiwi says:

    Full steam(punk) ahead! All the best, darlin’.

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