Celebrate St. Paddy's Day with Rachel Allen's authentic (and irresistible!) Irish treat.

By Jonna Gallo Weppler

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 eggs

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

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Grease an 8-inch square ovenproof baking dish.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.