Red Velvet Cookies and he chose the Banana Caramel Bread Pudding I'd blogged about earlier. But, being me, I couldn't resist trying a similar but different recipe for bread pudding and adding my own modifications to it. I kept the key elements such as bread pudding and caramelized bananas. But I also kept to the coconut and pecans in the original recipe.
4 cups cubed (1/3 inch) crusty French or Italian bread, including crust (I used 16 ounces of challah)
1 cup sweetened flaked coconut, lightly toasted
2/3 cup coarsely chopped pecans, toasted
4 large eggs
Scant 2/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 ¼ cups whole milk
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
1 ¼ teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup mashed banana
1/2 cup mashed banana
½ cup semisweet chocolate morsels or mini morsels, optional (I left them out)
- Lightly grease a 7 x 11-inch baking dish with nonstick cooking spray. Spread the bread cubes in the dish. Toast in the oven, stirring once or twice, until lightly crisp, 11 to 15 minutes; set aside.
- In a medium bowl, using a fork, beat the eggs until frothy and smooth. Add the brown sugar, stirring until it dissolves. Stir in the milk, cream, vanilla and mashed banana until well blended. Stir in half the coconut and all of the chocolate morsels, if using. Pour the egg mixture over the bread. Press down lightly until all of the bread is submerged. Cover with plastic wrap and let bread soak in the mixture overnight or for several hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 325°F. Sprinkle remaining coconut and the toasted pecans over the surface.
- Set the dish in a slightly larger roasting pan or broiler pan. Place on the oven rack. Add ¾ inch hot water to the pan. Bake just until the pudding feels in the center when lightly tapped and is nicely browned on top, 35 to 45 minutes. If bread pudding does not seem to be baking but the top is getting brown, remove from water bath and bake directly on oven rack. Cover top loosely with foil to prevent it from becoming too brown. When puffed and brown, transfer to a wire rack. Let cool for at least 15 minutes. Serve warm with ice cream or caramelized bananas.