a match made in heaven

When I dreamed up the perfect Valentine's day dessert for Matt and I a few years back, it of course had to have something creamy in it. I took one of my favorites, pumpkin and combined it with one of Matt's favorites, bourbon. Then I took one of his favorite desserts, bread pudding and made it brioche (lord knows I love me some buttery, rich egg bread). Throw on some bourbon salted caramel sauce and bourbon vanilla creme anglaise and you've got one crazy good dessert. It might sound like a bit of overkill to have two different bourbon sauces but I'm telling you, it works. One is subtle and the other is a bit more punchy - the two combined makes layers of bourbon goodness without feeling like you just took a shot. If making two sauces AND bread pudding scares you, don't worry. There's improv suggestions below on how to simplify the recipe. Seriously, just trust me, you need some of this in your life and it's a lot easier to make than it sounds. 

80% of the time I will pick chocolate over non-chocolate but this dish makes that 20% decision even harder. This dessert is comforting, creamy and filled with warm spices. Pumpkin and bourbon are the perfect valentines for each other. If you're not into super literal lovey-dovey heart shaped, red food for valentines day, I highly recommend you try this recipe for your boo. If chocolate pulls your heart strings, you can't go wrong with quick molten chocolate cakes or flourless chocolate cake. If you're without a valentine this year, that's cool too… who says you can't celebrate your love for yourself with a tasty dessert?! It just means more for you! Sharing is totally overrated. 
pumpkin brioche bread pudding
w/bourbon salted caramel sauce + bourbon vanilla bean creme anglaise 
yields 6 generous servings

for the bread pudding:
1 - 11oz brioche loaf (about 8 c. cubed)
2 c. half and half
2 c. whole milk
3 eggs
1 - 15 oz can pumpkin puree
1 TBSP vanilla extract
1 tsp nutmeg
1 TBSP cinnamon
¾ c. packed brown sugar
pinch of salt
3 TBSP butter (to grease the pan)

recipes for the sauces:

Preheat your oven to 350º F. Cut your brioche into about 1 inch cubes and set aside. You can do this a day in advance so that your bread stales up. If you don't have that kind of time, just place them in the oven for about 5 minutes until they dry out but don't start to brown.

Combine the spices, eggs, cream, milk, salt, vanilla, and pumpkin puree in a large bowl.  Whisk to combine. Add the brioche cubes and stir to combine. Lightly grease a 7x11 or 3 quart pan and pour your mixture into the dish. Let sit for at least 30 minutes, 60 minutes if you have the time - until the mixture is absorbed by the bread. Bake at 350º F for about 60 minutes. The bread pudding will have puffed slightly and have a light, golden brown top. 

To serve, cut a large square and top with caramel and creme anglaise. 

improv style:
what goes better with pumpkin and bourbon than pecans?! don't know why i didn't think to add some nuts in before i started writing this out. definitely trying that next time! if you don't have whole milk, you can use whatever milk you have on hand. no half and half? use heavy cream instead. big into warm spices? add more cinnamon, all spice, star anise or even ground cloves. don't have brown sugar? you can use white sugar instead. you can also use your favorite type of bread… challah would be an equivalent substitute but you can use french, italian or even country loaf. i've never tried it with regular sandwich bread but i would be interested to know if you try that how it turns out! 

do you HAVE to make the two sauces? no, but i HIGHLY recommend. if two is asking too much, make the one that sounds the best to you. not down with either? maybe consider a little drizzle of maple syrup or a dollop of maple whipped cream? ice cream is always good in a pinch.


  1. no recipe for the brioche?

    1. i bought the brioche at the grocery store. if you want to make your own, go get em'!! if you can't find brioche you could substitute it with challah bread or even day old french bread. i really like the consistency of the eggier breads like brioche and challah for this dish though!

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