White chocolate-banana bread pudding
I'm new here, and thought that I'd introduce myself by sharing a recipe. It comes from my friend Big Al Brooks, who, I think, got it while he was working at a fancy-pants restaurant called Anthem, outside Phoenix. It's very, very easy, and everyone I know loves it.
Big Al's White Chocolate-Banana Bread Pudding
First, make the banana bread.
Set your oven at 350 F.
Whip four very ripe bananas with a cup and a quarter of sugar. That being done, whip in a third of a pound of soft butter. I have never quite been able to measure a third of a pound accurately, but the recipe hasn't ever suffered for it. Now, whip in two eggs and a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Make sure that each ingredient is well-whipped-in before adding the next one. Now, separately, sift together a cup and a half of all-purpose flour, a half teaspoon of salt, and a teaspoon and a half of baking soda. Blend the dry ingredients well into the wet ingredients, and then glomp the entire resulting mess into a nine-inch loaf pan, and let 'er rip in your 350 F oven for about an hour. Nota bene: Big Al's recipe calls for one nine-inch loaf pan, but I have always used four mini loaf pans without detriment.
Once the banana bread has cooled entirely, cut it up into medium cubes; I use something like one-inch squares, and am happy with that. I don't think that it really matters terribly what the dimensions of your cubed bread are, as we are going to make a pudding of it anyway.
And now we make the custard, without which one would not have much of a pudding:
Heat two cups of milk, a half cup each of heavy cream and sugar, a half teaspoon of salt, a teaspoon of vanilla extract, and twelve ounces of melted white chocolate. As they are heating, whoop together two egg yolks and three entire eggs (sans shells, of course). Create a heavenly custard by tempering the hot and sweetened dairy mix with the not-hot eggs.
See to it that your oven is now set at 325 F.
Dump your cubed banana bread into a pan of some sort (Big Al advises the use of an eight-inch square pan, but I generally, and successfully, use a full 200 hotel pan), and pour the custard over it. Let it sit there nicely for half an hour or so, periodically smooshing it to encourage the marriage of bread and custard.
Prepare a water bath for the pan you are using, and clap the whole thing into your 325 F oven for about an hour. Drizzle about half a cup of heavy cream over the top, and sprinkle two tablespoons or so of sugar over it, so that you will wind up with a nicely caramelized, chewy-crunchy top. Return your loveliness to its oven for another fifteen minutes or so--long enough to ensure the caramelization--and voila! You are now the proud owner of the world's best bread pudding.
Part of the beauty of this recipe is that it is very adaptable and forgiving.
If you love yourself, or anyone else, you will also make this accompanying Bourbon caramel sauce to top the pudding at service. It's very easy, as long as you haven't any qualms about making caramel, and keeps at room temp forever--although it is so good that it has never had a chance to last that long.
Caramelize four ounces of water and a pound of sugar. Once that's done, whisk in a pint of heavy cream (be careful here--there will be some sizzling and popping and splashing), and then two ounces of decent Bourbon.
That, my friends, is every good and wonderful thing, combined beautifully, and served up on a plate right in front of you and those whom you love. Plus which, it's easier than falling off a log.