Caramel Bread Pudding with chocolate and candied cherries

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Re-posting this from before since I just updated with video too. Also since my blog had been private for a long time and I just recently made it public, i will be re-posting some of my old recipes.

Bread Pudding was a very common dessert while we were growing up.  My mom had learnt how to make one from a Goan neighbour we had a long time ago.  She used to almost always make this using left over bread slices. Or whenever she made potato patties and had left over bread edges since she cut off the edges for making the patties! How ingenious, isn’t it? Over the years I have experimented a lot with the basic recipe adding new ingredients to it.  My husband loves nuts and so I have made variations with almonds and dates.  My most recent variation has been with chocolate chunks and dried cherries.   I was inspired by a recipe I saw in a BHG recipes collection.  But I stuck to my basic recipe and just added the additional ingredients.  The dried cherries in this recipe have to be first soaked in cherry flavored brandy so I just save some portion of the pudding mixture before adding this ingredient and steam separately for kids.  Or you can omit it totally but I have to say the candied cherries and chocolate together elevate this bread pudding to a different level altogether something that would be perfect for a romantic night or to celebrate something special.

You can either steam the pudding using a steam bath or bake in the oven and I have explained both methods below and in my video.


This recipe will make 4-6 servings
Ingredients:
2  slices of white bread or oat bran bread (large size bread)
or 3 slices of regular slice bread
1 1/2 cups whole milk (or you can use 1 cup whole and 1/2 cup heavy cream
if you want it richer)
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 tbsp butter (melted)
1 tsp vanilla essence
1/2 cup large chocolate chunks (or milk chocolate bar
broken into 1/2 inch chunks)
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 cup dried cherries, soaked in 2 tbsp of cherry flavored
brandy for about 30 minutes
2 tbsp sliced almonds (optional)
For the  caramel topping:
1/4 cup  sugar

Method:

For the caramel coating:

First we need to make the caramel coating. So for that we take a Aluminium round baking pan(about 7-8 inch dia) and add the 1/4 cup sugar on it. Spread the sugar by twirling the pan such that the sugar covers the base of the pan completely. Now place the pan on the stove on medium heat.  Keep watching as the sugar first starts melting and then slowly begins to change color. At the point when it starts  turn golden brown, keep twirling the pan constantly so that there is uniform caramel coating formed. At some point if you feel the coating is getting too dark, turn the heat to very low. Once you have an even coating that is golden brown,  turn the heat off. And let the pan cool.  (All this will take between 3-5 minutes)

For the Pudding mixture:

Warm the milk to about lukewarm on a stove or heat in a microwave on high for about 1 minute.   Pour the milk to a medium mixing bowl.  Take the bread slices and break them into small pieces and add to the warm milk.  Next add the sugar and the butter also to the milk and bread mixture.   Break the eggs in  another bowl and whisk it for a minute or so.  Next pour this beaten egg slowly into the bread and milk mixture making sure that the milk is not too warm and has sufficiently cooled down at this point so that you don’t end up with scrambled eggs!. After this, add the vanilla essence and baking powder and stir well to make sure there are no lumps of the baking powder.

Let the mixture sit for about 5 minutes to cool. Finally add the chocolate pieces, the almonds(if adding) and the cherries (make sure you drain the brandy off and add only the cherries).

Steaming Method: Pour this mixture onto the pan with the caramel coating and then place this pan on a steam bath( Take a big cooking pot and put a small plate on the bottom and cover the pot with about 1 inch of water and let the water boil. ) Cover the steam bath with a lid and steam the pudding for about 15 minutes.

Oven Method: Alternatively, you could bake this pudding in small ramekins by forming caramel coating on the ramekins individually and then baking the pudding mixture at 350 F for about 30-40 minutes.

Healthy Black Bean Brownie

Healthy Black Bean Brownies

My kids love chocolate and they especially love fudgy chocolate brownies. So I am constantly trying to make healthier versions of this dessert.  Recently I came across a brownie made with black beans when I was watching Food Network on TV. I was at first revolted by the idea of using black beans in any dessert (although I love black beans otherwise). But then one day I decided to try this recipe out and when I served it to the family i did not mention the black beans and you know what? My kids loved it and kept telling me that this was the ‘bestest’ brownie I had ever made because it was so gooey and fudgy and yummy!  So since then I make brownies using black beans quite regularly and have also improvized the original recipe slightly – I replaced half of the sugar with honey and also reduced the salt content. So here’s the killer recipe.  These brownies are great to bring to a kids’ event like school events, soccer games, birthday parties etc.

This recipe will make 2 dozen or 24 brownies

Adapted from Food Network ‘s Melissa de Arabian’s recipe

Ingredients:
1 and 1/2 cup cooked black beans (or canned black beans that
have been rinsed and drained well)
1 cup  olive oil (you can use  coconut oil too)
4 eggs
1/2 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
1 cup sugar
2 tbsp honey
1 tsp instant coffee
2tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips (melted)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips
2/3 cup flour
1 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp  confectioners' sugar for dusting

Method:

Preheat oven to 350 deg C.  Grease a 12″ by 9″ rectangular pan. (If you like a smaller batch just halve the quantities above and use a smaller size pan)

Take the black beans and put them in a blender (or a grinder). Add the olive oil and blend until the beans are mashed well. Next add the eggs two at a time and again blend.  Then add the cocoa powder, the sugar, honey, the instant coffee powder and the vanilla extract. Next take half a cup of the semi-sweet chocolate chips and melt them either using a double boiler or just in the microwave oven*.

Next take the dry ingredients – the flour , the baking powder and the salt in a bowl and mix well.  Add this to the blender too and again blend for about two minutes stopping every now and then to scrape the sides of the blender and to make sure the flour is mixed well into the rest of the black bean mixture.  Now pour this mixture onto the prepared pan and then spread the rest of the chocolate chips (1/2 cup) on the top.

Bake at 350 deg C for about 18-20 minutes. Start checking at 18 minutes using a knife to see if it comes out clean.  Let cool for 5 minutes and then cut into squares. You could sprinkle confectioner’s sugar on the top before serving.  These are best served warm!

Special Notes: *: For melting chocolate chips in a double boiler, first place a medium size pot filled half with water on the stove and heat it till the water starts boiling. Then place a glass bowl (or a smaller pot) into this pot and put the chocolate chips into the inner bowl(or pot). Keep stirring the chocolate until it melts into liquid. Alternatively, you could melt chocolate pieces in the microwave by placing them in a microwave safe bowl and heating them for 30 seconds and then taking it out and stirring. Keep doing this till chocolate is fully melted.

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