My recipes often come with a story. I got the original recipe from a baker in New Orleans in the 1980s when I was doing a series of stories on the wonders of the city. During the late-night shoot we cooked and sampled lots of wonderful goodies, but when we made this bread pudding my crew and I ate the entire batch. It might have been fatigue that caused us to reel toward our van in the middle of the night, with the French Quarter lights out of focus and dancing merrily before us as we struggled to remember where we’d stashed our truck. But my guess is that it was the whiskey sauce.
When I moved from Georgia back to the North, I lost the recipe and whined about it to my friend, Grace Hawthorne, a Louisiana native, a fine storyteller and gifted photographer. “I’m from Louisiana! Of course I have that recipe,” said she. So, now I think of it as Grace’s recipe. The only change I’ve made to this wonderful, easy, from lips–to—hips dessert is to cut the amount of sugar in half. That should make it possible to enjoy it with only half the guilt:
1 French baguette diced and allowed to dry out for a couple of days.
(I buy a second baguette in case I need to add a little bread. The mixture shouldn’t be too soupy)
In a large bowl mix together:
2 tsps vanilla
1 cup golden raisins
4 cups whole milk
1 cup coconut
1 cup sugar
1 stick of melted butter
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg (I use fresh ground)
1 cup chopped pecans or almonds – or skip the nuts if you wish
Pop in the diced, dried bread and mix well. Dump the whole thing into a buttered bowl and bake – starting in a cold oven – at 350 for about an hour. When it looks done, it probably is done.
The whiskey sauce:
Over a low flame melt 1 stick of butter.
Add 1-1/2 cups powered sugar and blend
Take it off the flame and stir in the egg yolks.
Add ½ cup of whisky* and whisk furiously.
I put mine in a blender for about a minute to make it a smooth lemony-colored sauce.
Serve the warm sauce over the warm pudding – followed by a nap.
Substitute your favorite juice if you prefer not to use alcohol.