This time of year I seem to get a lot of unexpected drop-in visits from neighbors and friends. One could chalk it up to holiday cheer fever, but I know the simple truth is they are hoping to catch me in a baking frenzy. The odds are in their favor, as during the holiday season, baking is a daily affair around here.
It’s not the piping fresh vanilla, ginger and cinnamon-laden scents infusing every corner of my home, Nor just the promise of rich or savory delights spilling from my oven and range top. I’m convinced it’s because I typically bake with alcohol.
Yes, my house is like the local pub around holiday time. Baking with alcohol apparently is a friend visit magnet, but also my secret for creating subtle and complex flavors in holiday baked goods.
Rum Raisin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce is a favorite decadent dessert go-to that hits all the right flavor notes without any overwhelming sweetness. I’ve also been known to serve it at brunch and breakfast. No one ever complains.
Prior to baking this dessert, you will have to “rum” your raisins. A dark rum is the preferred pair up for dark raisins. Quality is key here. Most any dark rum will work wonders, but I like to find one that’s powerful on flavor and smooth on finish.
This year I used Plantation Original Dark Rum in my first batch with excellent results. Plantation Original Dark is a blend of rums from Trinidad and Tobago, aged first in its country of origin and then aged a second time in toasted Cognac Ferrand French oak casts. For a modest-priced rum, it has a politely-smooth caramel finish.
To create rum raisins, simply grab a mason jar (or any other glass jar with a tight fitting lid,) Pour 1/2 cup of raisins in to the jar. Cover the raisins with rum (pour just until the raisins are covered.) Swish the jar gently from side to side to make sure the rum settles in. Seal the jar. Store in a dark space (like the back corner of a pantry shelf,) for 1-2 days. If you are in a hurry, you could use the raisins after a 1-2 hour soak, but they will not be as flavor rich as those stored longer.
When the raisins are ready, strain and collect the left-over rum. Do not discard the rum remainder. You can use it for the next batch of rum raisins or you can certainly sip it (it’s quite good!) or use it to flavor other baked goods like rum cake.
Rum Raisin Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce Recipe
1 1/2 cups milk
1 tablespoons butter
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/3 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup rum raisins
5 slices brioche bread, torn
2 eggs, beaten
Caramel Sauce – I’d love to tell you I whip up my own caramel sauce. Occasionally I do, but generally for time sake, I simply purchase pre-made caramel sauce and heat it up. There are plenty of great organic and low-sugar varieties available, just pick your favorite.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
In a large saucepan, over a low heat, add milk, butter, nutmeg, cinnamon, vanilla, brown sugar and rum raisins. Stir over low heat until fully incorporated (sugar will be dissolved, mixture will be warm.)
In a large mixing bowl, add bread. Pour warm saucepan mixture over the bread. All liquid to soak into bread for at least 30 minutes.
In a small mixing bowl, beat eggs. Pour eggs over bread mixture and gentle stir until evenly mixed.
Pour bread pudding into a pre-greased 8×8 glass or ceramic baking dish.
Bake bread pudding for for 45 minutes. Bread pudding should be lightly-browned throughout.
Cool on a baking rack for 20 minutes.
Prior to serving, warm caramel sauce. Serve portions of bread pudding, top with caramel sauce. Enjoy!