Bread pudding is a terrible name for such a worthy dessert.
Bread. Blah and boring. Connotation of the aisles of packaged white fluff with an abundance of preservatives and who knows what.
Pudding. Gelatin. Powder mixed with milk and chilled. Served in plastic. Trademark of hospital food.
Know how to remedy that small little problem? Just add a liqueur to the title, and people will come running.
In college, there was a little restaurant downtown that served a signature bread pudding that was out of this world. Anytime we managed to find our way there, I allllllways got it. There was something incredible about this traditional, simple idea on the plate in front of me. Crispy white bread, soaked in a creamy custard, laden with some heavenly flavor unknown to my palate.
A year or so later, I started work in my first bakery, lo and behold, for the lady who made the desserts for said restaurant. When I rambled incessantly about my love for that bread pudding, she said, “Oh, you liked the Amaretto!”.
Whaaaaaat? My 20-year old self never went through a crazy college phase where I learned all the ins and outs of alcohol, so after a brief stint on Wikipedia, I realized what this heavenly liqueur was and why it is an ingredient that belongs in allllll the desserts.
Almonds. Italians took almonds and made it into alcohol. And it is delicious. Deeply sweet and remarkably fragrant, with just a wee bit of bitterness, it has the potential to fulfill so many dessert dreams. It especially makes dreams come true when made into a buttery sauce and poured over a moist, dense, cakey concoction.
So I got my dealer, aka Mom, to go to the nearest liquor store and buy Amaretto for me, and attempted to recreate the dish that swept me off of my feet. And it was delicious. In all honesty, you’d have to make some substantial uh-ohs to mess up these flavors. They don’t require intricate precision like some desserts. These flavors just want to sit back in a pan with each other, relax, and have a good time getting to know each other. The end result is quite a reward. Both for your taste buds and culinary confidence.