I had a bread-making disaster recently. The resulting bread was edible but ugly with the top crust separated from the loaf; I was going to soldier through, eating it for breakfast, until I came across a recipe for a white chocolate and hazelnut bread pudding using gluten-free bread. I don’t even like bread pudding, but I was much more interested in eating it than in eating the bread that I was stuck with.
This recipe makes a lot of rich little bread puddings. I was very aware of how many calories the bread puddings had, what with all the cream, but this is the first bread pudding I’ve had that I haven’t minded eating. It was definitely a good way to use up my misshapen bread.
Gluten-Free White Chocolate Hazelnut Bread Puddings (adapted from King Arthur Flour)
1 cup hazelnuts
1/2 to 3/4 loaf gluten-free bread (mine was this millet bread that I still plan to try again)
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp nutmeg
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
8 egg yolks
1 3/4 cups white chocolate, chopped
1/4 cup sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
Toast hazelnuts in a 350F oven for about 10 minutes, but stay by your oven to smell them as they toast. Mine smelled and were plenty toasty after no more than 7 minutes. Set them aside to cool.
Grease nine 8 ounce ramekins. (Mine were 6 and 7 ounces.) Cut bread into 1-inch cubes. Divide bread cubes and crumbs among ramekins; do not pack it in tightly. Combine spices, cream, and milk in a saucepan on the stove. Bring to a simmer. Meanwhile, whisk egg yolks with sugar. Once the cream is at a simmer, temper your eggs by whisking about a cup of the warm cream into the egg yolks, stirring constantly. Pour the egg yolk mixture back into the saucepan and whisk to combine. Remove from heat. Add white chocolate and vanilla; let it stand for a minute or two to allow the white chocolate pieces to soften. Stir to combine. Evenly divide the custard among the ramekins, pushing down on the bread cubes. Let puddings rest for 15 minutes to allow the bread to soak up the liquid.
Chop the hazelnuts and sprinkle them on top of the bread puddings. Bake at 350F for about 30 minutes, until the puddings are set. Let rest for 10 minutes, then eat warm. Store in the refrigerator, and gently reheat leftovers.
I liked the browned tops of the bread puddings best. They generally had the most texture from the browning, and of course, that’s where the hazelnuts lived. I sometimes have some issues with the interior texture of bread pudding, but I didn’t experience that here. The custard made the bread moist, not mushy. I could taste the vanilla and cinnamon; the white chocolate got lost in the mix, but I could taste it if I tried to find it. Alex really enjoyed the puddings, particularly the hazelnuts on top. I’m not a generally fan of bread pudding, but I do think that this is a good one.