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The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook: Croissant Bread Pudding

An over-the-top dessert from Ina Garten. If you like bread pudding this one may appeal to you; I found it rather boring, myself.

You'll need to buy the croissants a day ahead so that they get a bit stale. Garten's recipe says to cook the pudding in a 10-by-15-inch baking dish, but I found that the croissants and custard mixture fit just fine in a 9-by-13-inch dish. Garten also says that you need to make sure that the raisins are completely contained within the croissants, or they will burn. I found this curious, so I purposely left some of the raisins floating in the custard, and they were fine. In other words, don't worry about it.

I think that Ina Garten's definitions for "medium" and "large" must be different from mine, because the original instructions for this recipe say to mix the custard in a "medium" bowl. In my world, 5 cups of half-and-half plus 11 eggs and yolks do not fit in a "medium" bowl. I've changed the instructions to read "large."

The recipe suggests serving this bread pudding with rum-flavored whipped cream. I honestly think that that's just another boring dairy component that won't add a lot to a dish that's already overflowing with half-and-half. For contrast, I suggest a compote of fruit such as strawberries or raspberries (place the fruit in a saucepan with a sprinkling of sugar, bring to a gentle simmer, and cook for just a couple of minutes so that the fruit retains its shape).

Prep Time: 15 minutes
Cook Time: about 1 1/2 hours
Yield: 8 to 10 servings

3 extra-large eggs
8 extra-large egg yolks
5 cups half-and-half
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
6 croissants, preferably stale
1 cup raisins

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, half-and-half, sugar, and vanilla. Set the custard mixture aside.

Slice the croissants in half horizontally. Place the bottoms of the croissants in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Sprinkle the raisins atop the croissant bottoms, then cover them with the croissant tops (try to keep the raisins inside the croissants, but don't worry if some of them escape). Pour the custard over the top and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down occasionally.

Place the baking dish in a larger roasting pan filled with an inch of hot water. Cover the larger pan with aluminum foil, tenting the foil so that it doesn't touch the pudding. Cut a few holes in the foil for steam to escape. Bake for 45 minutes. Remove the foil and bake for another 40 to 45 minutes or until the pudding puffs up and the custard is set. Remove from the oven and cool about 10 minutes before serving.




I love this recipe, but I substitue shaved chocolate (Scharffenberger's 70% preferrably) for the raisins. I don't use a whole cup of chocolate, maybe a 1/2 cup. It adds a contrasting bitter element to all the creamy "egginess". And, I agree with you on the whipped cream - just excessive.

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