If there’s one thing we love more than a good bread pudding, it’s a good holiday-themed bread pudding. Swapping milk for eggnog makes — yes! eggnog bread pudding — a new classic dessert that will make you swoon.
Since bread pudding is all about the bread and custard, choose your bread wisely. Using at least two kinds of bread creates a little more depth to the finished custard. A combination of sweet Hawaiian rolls and cranberry English muffins works well, but a blend of classic brioche and sourdough is exceptional.
Brioche is used in a lot of sweet dishes because of its buttery flavor and texture. Sourdough offers a stark contrast in texture, which helps give more definition to the final dish. Whatever breads you choose, mix two kinds with contrasting textures for best results.
What you’ll need to make this eggnog bread pudding
6 cups stale bread, cubed
2¼ cups eggnog
4 tablespoons butter, melted
⅔ cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
½ teaspoon pink Himalayan salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Again, since bread is the star, prepare it in two ways. First, cut 6 generous cups of bread into small cubes; cover it with a towel and set it aside overnight. (Since bread doesn’t fill a measuring cup with the same precision sugar or flour does, we say “generous” because they can overflow a little and you’ll be OK.)
When you’re ready to assemble your eggnog bread pudding, spread the bread out on a cookie sheet and lightly toast it. If you don’t have time to leave the bread out overnight, just toast it a little longer in the oven to make sure it’s dried out like it’s stale. After toasting, pour melted butter evenly over the bread, and stir to coat as evenly as possible.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the sugar, vanilla, salt and nutmeg. Add eggs and whisk together; repeat the step with the eggnog. Place 5 cups of toasted bread cubes into the egg mixture and let it stand for 30 minutes.
Finally, add the remaining bread and combine. This extra step may seem overly meticulous, but it helps elevate the texture of the final bread pudding.
Fill eight ramekins almost full with the bread pudding mixture, leaving a little room at the top. As they bake, they’ll rise slightly. (Overpacking the ramekins can mean a mess to clean up in the bottom of your oven later.) Bake at 350 F for 20-25 minutes, or until the custard is set.
Now, here’s what will really impress guests. Instead of a traditional whiskey sauce, you’ll make a cranberry pinot noir coulis (pronounced koo-LEE). A coulis is a smooth sauce made from puréed or strained fruit. In this one, the tartness of the cranberries complements the warmth of the eggnog.
Low heat is your friend here. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over low heat; add the sugar, vanilla, salt and cranberries. Continue to cook over low heat, stirring occasionally. Cranberries can pop, like grease, so low and slow is best. After 5 to 10 minutes, smash a few cranberries with a wooden spoon to test how soft they are. They should be tender.
Add the pinot noir and smash the berries using a wooden spoon or potato masher. The sauce will thicken as it cooks.
Next, use a sieve (fine mesh strainer) over a pan to separate the coulis from the cranberry skins. Adding small amounts of the coulis mixture at a time, work it through the sieve, scraping the bottom. If you want a thinner sauce, add another quarter cup or so of the wine.
You’ll have people eating this dressed-up eggnog bread pudding with their fingers, because the cranberry pinot noir coulis is that delish!
This beautiful dish looks like you spent a lot of time preparing special desserts for each guest, but the bake time is actually halved because the portions are individual. That’s a win-win!