Hailed by the typically reserved BBC as the "Irish cooking queen," best-selling cookbook author and TV chef Rachel Allen has a devoted fan base in Ireland and the UK and she's starting to cause a stir stateside, thanks to her PBS show, Rachel's Favorite Food at Home. This year, celebrate St. Paddy's Day with her authentic (and irresistible!) Emerald Isle treat.
4 tablespoons butter (preferably Kerrygold), softened, plus extra for greasing
10 slices good-quality white bread, crusts removed
7 ounces (about 1 cup) pitted dates, chopped
1 1/2 cups cream
2/3 cup milk
3 ounces (about 1/3 cup plus 2 tablespoons) superfine sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon light brown sugar for sprinkling
Easy Boozy Toffee Sauce (recipe at bottom)
Softly whipped cream
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
- Grease an 8-inch square ovenproof baking dish.
- Butter all bread slices. Set aside 4 and cut remaining 6 in half to make triangles. Place the 4 whole slices, buttered sides up, in dish. Sprinkle chopped dates over top. Arrange bread triangles, buttered sides up, on top to cover dates.
- Heat cream and milk in a saucepan, bringing almost to a boil. Meanwhile, whisk eggs, sugar and vanilla in a heatproof bowl, then pour the hot milk/cream combo on top, whisking as you go, to make a custard. Pour over bread and let soak for 20 minutes. Sprinkle brown sugar over bread.
- Place baking dish in a large roasting pan and carefully pour enough hot water into roasting pan to come halfway up side of dish. Bake 50-60 minutes or until golden and center is just set. Serve with Easy Boozy Toffee Sauce and whipped cream.
NOTE: Bread pudding can be made a day ahead, then reheated for about 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven until hot in center.
Easy Boozy Toffee Sauce
8 tablespoons butter (preferably Kerrygold)
8 ounces (about 1 1/4 cups) light brown sugar
1 cup cream
1/4 cup brandy
1/4 cup sweet sherry
Place butter, sugar and cream in a saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring throughout. Boil 4 minutes or until sauce has thickened. Remove pan from heat, let cool 1 minute, then add brandy and sherry. Makes 1 3/4 cups.
Originally published in the March 2012 issue of Family Circle magazine.