Friday, November 9, 2012

Pear & Bacon Bread Pudding with a Salted Caramel Sauce







 I entered this recipe in a bacon contest in the "desserts" category. It was a semifinalist, but it did not take the prize. It's still pretty yummy, though, and if you're feeling a little adventurous and you're high on the hog, well, go for it!  Personally, the caramel is the crown!

There IS a disclaimer, though. You know how they say, "save room for dessert?" Well, in this case, it means skip dinner, all together! Haha..NOT kidding.   It's quite the indulgence!



Bread Pudding Ingredients:
½ pound of thick-cut bacon strips
2 Bartlett pears (peeled and sliced into large chunks)
1 loaf of brioche, or egg bread (stale)
2 ½ cups of heavy cream
½ cup of maple syrup
½ cup of sugar
5 large eggs (beaten)
½ cup of pecans (rough chopped)
1 tbsp of vanilla
1 tsp of cinnamon
½ tsp of kosher salt
Cooking spray for pan

Bacon Caramel Ingredients:
1/2 cup of bacon (diced)
3 tbsp. brown sugar
¾ cup of heavy cream
¼ teaspoon of salt

Preparation:
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.  In a medium sauté pan on medium heat, crisp the bacon and set aside on paper towel-lined plate. Crumble the bacon into small pieces when it is cool enough to touch.  (should yield about 2 cups) Drain most of the bacon fat and set aside, leaving a couple tablespoons in the pan. Add the chopped and peeled pears to the bacon fat and sauté for about 3 minutes, stirring constantly. Transfer pears to a bowl and set aside.  In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, sugar, maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt. Toss in the pears, 1 cup of crumbled bacon, chopped pecans, and brioche, and set aside for 15 minutes so the brioche can absorb the custard.  Coat a 12 inch cast iron pan (or, 13x9x2-inch baking dish) with cooking spray, and pour in the bread pudding mixture.  Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. After 20 minutes, remove foil and bake another 20 minutes, or until the pudding is puffed up and the top is browned.  It is ready when a knife comes out clean. Allow to rest at least 10 minutes. Serve warm with salted bacon caramel.

Preparation for Caramel:
About 10 minutes before serving the bread pudding, prepare the salted bacon caramel. Using 1 tablespoon of the reserved bacon fat coat the bottom of a heavy gauge sauce pan. Add the brown sugar and stir until it liquefies. Slowly stir in the heavy cream and salt, and lastly, stir in the bacon.

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