Sunday, March 11, 2012

Brioche Pudding with Sour Cherries and White Chocolate – a crowd pleaser!

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Bread-and-Butter Pudding is one of the great mysteries of the universe. How is it that such a simple collection of ingredients - stale bread, a few eggs, a little sugar and some dairy - can make such a crowd-pleasing dessert?

I have some friends coming for dinner so I have upped the ingredients a notch to raise this dessert from ‘family favourite’ to ‘elegant afters’... Hey, who am I kidding? This dessert will never be elegant but it tastes really, really good. It is light and luscious, with a crunchy sugary almond top. What more could you ask for from a dessert!

For 6 servings you will need...

... to pre-heat the oven to 170°C at step 3

25g butter, at room temperature, to butter 6 ramekins or individual pie dishes
350g brioche, cut into slices about 1cm thick, then cut into triangles
120g good quality white chocolate, roughly chopped
60g dried sour cherries (dried cranberries can be substituted)
375mls fresh milk
180mls fresh cream
75g runny honey
3 eggs, beaten
1 teaspoon grated lemon zest
60g almonds, roughly chopped

Icing sugar for dusting

Whipped cream or ice cream to serve 

1                 Butter six ramekins or individual pie dishes. Arrange a layer of brioche triangles in the base of each. Scatter the sour cherries and the chopped white chocolate over this layer. Cover with another layer of brioche.
2                 Pour the cream and milk into a jug then add the honey. (The easiest way to weigh the honey is to put the jug on weighing scales and add the honey directly into the jug). Add the beaten eggs and lemon zest and stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Divide this raw custard between the dishes and scatter the chopped almonds over the top. Cover loosely with cling film and leave in the fridge for several hours or overnight for the brioche to absorb the mixture and for the lemony vanilla flavours to meld.
3                 When you are ready to cook the brioche pudding, pre-heat the oven to 170°C and boil a kettle of water. Meanwhile, dust the puddings with a generous layer of icing sugar. When the water has boiled, place the puddings in a roasting tin then transfer the tin to the oven. Carefully add enough boiling water to come about halfway up the sides of the ramekins. This helps distribute the heat evenly and avoids the eggs overcooking.
4                 Bake the puddings for about 30 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately with whipped cream or good vanilla ice cream. (While at their best straight out of the oven, these have been known to make an excellent breakfast.) 

Variations: This dessert is also really good with French bread, or croissants. Vary the flavours by adding different dried fruits and flavouring the egg mixture with spices (I love dried apricot and cardamom; or candied orange peel and fresh ginger).
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