Tired of traditional pumpkin pie or looking to shake things up this Thanksgiving? Then I have just the recipe for you. Best part is you could practically make it with your eyes closed, though I wouldn't necessarily recommend it. I'm just sayin', it's really easy! My mom described it as 'orgasmic', so I guess that means it's also pretty darn tasty, and I'll second that.
10 oz bread*
15 oz pumpkin puree (canned or fresh)
1 1/4 cup whole milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 large eggs
1/4 cup light brown sugar**
1/4 tsp salt
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground allspice
1/2 cup pecans, optional
Bourbon Caramel Sauce
3 cups whole milk
3/4 cup sugar
1/8 tsp salt
3/8 tsp baking soda
2 Tbsp Bourbon, optional
*When it comes to bread just about any will work and you want it to be a little stale, so whatever kind you use, let it sit out uncovered for about a day. I first tried this recipe with sourdough, then with whole wheat and italian, and all three were delicious. A brioche or french would also work nicely or you can get extra fancy by using croissants or cinnamon raisin bread.
You shouldn't need more than 10 oz of bread, maybe less depending on what kind and the shape you use, you'll just want to fill your pan nicely. You can either use 1/2" slices as shown on the left (quick and easy!) or you can cut or tear 1" cubes from an unsliced loaf and scatter them in your pan.
When you're ready to make the dish, preheat the oven to 350° and place the bread in a buttered 2qt baking dish.
To make the custard, whisk all the wet ingredients and spices together in a large bowl then pour the custard over the bread in the baking dish. Be sure to stir it around or lift the slices to spread it in between and under, making sure all the bread is thoroughly coated.
**If you're not planning on serving this dish with any kind of sweet sauce, I recommend doubling the light brown sugar in the custard to 1/2 cup total.
Next, toss the pecans in a bowl or plastic bag with 1 Tbsp brown sugar and 1/2 tsp cinnamon then spread them evenly over the pudding, if desired.
Bake until set, about 40 - 45 minutes. You'll need to cut into the middle to check the doneness as the top will set faster.
In the meantime you can make the sauce.
In a large saucepan, whisk together the milk, sugar and salt and heat to a simmer over medium heat.
When it begins to bubble, remove from heat and stir in the baking soda. It will foam up a bit.
Return to simmer and cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally and skimming off foam as needed. Sauce will begin to thicken and turn golden brown within 30 - 45 minutes.
Continue cooking until sauce is thick enough to lightly coat a spoon. When the sauce is almost finished, add the Bourbon if desired, and continue cooking until it reaches the desired consistency. If you're concerned about liking the flavor, start by adding one Tablespoon, then add the second if desired.
Serve scoops or slices of warm pudding topped with warm sauce and enjoy! The pudding and sauce can both be stored, covered, in the fridge for up to two weeks and you can definitely make this ahead of time for Thanksgiving dinner. Just reheat it in a low stove or microwave before serving and fill your gravy boat with the warm caramel sauce!