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The River House Bread Pudding

Source: The River House, Grassy Creek, North Carolina

1/4 cup dried currants
1/4 (generous) cup cognac
Butter and sugar for coating ramekins
6 cups (about 6 ounces) French-style bread,
    cut into 3/4-inch cubes
6 tablespoons melted butter
2 eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup milk
3/4 cup cream
Caramel Sauce (recipe below)
Vanilla Sauce (recipe below)

Soak currants in cognac at least 1 hour, or overnight. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Butter, then sugar 6 individual ramekins (3/4 cup each).

In a large bowl, toss cubed bread with melted butter. In separate bowl, beat eggs with sugar and add milk and cream; mix with bread. Let stand about 30 minutes, stirring occasionally with a rubber spatula, until most of the liquid is absorbed. Add the brandied currants, mix well and spoon into the ramekins.

Place ramekins in a pan and bake for about 30 minutes until puffed and golden.

Coat 6 dessert plates with Caramel Sauce and decorate with Vanilla Sauce. Holding a ramekin with a mitt or potholder, loosen the pudding with your fingers or by running a knife around the edge. Very carefully tilt the pudding into your other hand and quickly onto the prepared plate. Serve hot. Makes 6 servings.

Caramel Sauce
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup water
1 cup heavy cream

In a medium-size saucepan with a tight-fitting lid, melt sugar and water over low heat. Increase heat to medium; cover and cook until deep golden in color. Check often to avoid overcooking. Remove from heat and immediately add cream. (Don?t worry if sauce seizes up.) Return to low heat and stir with a wooden spoon until smooth and creamy. Pour into a Pyrex cup.

This makes about 1 1/2 cups, more than needed for the bread pudding recipe above, but it keeps well in the refrigerator and is delicious on ice cream or poached pears.

Vanilla Sauce
6 egg yolks
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

In the top of a double boiler, whisk egg yolks with sugar. Add hot milk and cook over gently boiling water, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon until the mixture coats the spoon and a finger run across the spoon leaves a path. Take care not to overcook. Strain through a sieve into a bowl or large cup. When cool, add vanilla extract. Refrigerate at least 2 hours.

This also makes more than needed for the bread pudding but is wonderful on berries or with poached pears and caramel sauce.



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