Today, I am thankful for bread pudding.
When I think of bread pudding, I think about my business trips to New Orleans. When I dined alone, I often feasted on a regional meal of salad, French bread, boiled crawfish and bread pudding with whiskey sauce.
Yesterday, anticipating another baking adventure, I made an extra loaf of French bread. Today, I decide to make bread pudding based on a Mark Bittman recipe.
My recipe combines day-old French bread, half and half, eggs, real maple syrup, homemade vanilla extract, ground cinnamon, ground ginger and sliced almonds. Layer the bread in a large baking dish. Whisk together the remaining ingredients (except the almonds) and pour over the bread. Let soak for about 5 minutes. Sprinkle almonds over the top. Drizzle additional maple syrup over the almonds. Bake. Serve hot from the oven, warm, at room temperature or cold from the refrigerator.
This bread pudding is rich and flavorful, light (i.e., not soggy), not too sweet. The top crust sports toasted almonds glazed with maple syrup. The bread is moist and creamy yet firm, the flavors - maple syrup, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger - delicate and complex. Better, I think, than the bread puddings I enjoyed in New Orleans.
For this blessing, I am grateful.