Almond Paste Bread Pudding?
I've decided to make some sort of bread pudding for Christmas morning, preferably with almond paste as an ingredient, maybe with a creamy hard sauce...? Any recommended recipes out there, or have I just invented something new? I found one recipe online, but it called for crumbling the almond paste on top and sounded a little slapdash.
Reporting back here on my new creation, and I have to say, I think I've invented something pretty spectacular. This may become our new Christmas tradition.
Sorry there's no true measurements, because we were playing around a bit, but here's what we did:
One Trader Joe's round sourdough loaf, left to sit out for a couple of days so it got a little stale (TJ's loaves are a little smaller than most grocery stores, I think)
-From the fat middle of the loaf, cut 6 very thin slices--enough to line your casserole pan, so if it's a bigger pan cut more, if it's fat bread, cut less.
-Cut the rest of the bread into 1-inch cubes.
Place about 2/3 of the cubes into a casserole dish (we used an oblong 1 quart size, and had a little overflow)--the bottom should be completely covered, with bread maybe 1 1/2-2" high. If you like raisins, sprinkle raisins on top to fill in the gaps between cubes. Add cinnamon, about 1/2 tsp of almond extract and 1 tsp of vanilla to about 1 1/2 cups of eggnog. Pour nog on top until the cubes are almost covered (increase nog amount if needed).
Take one tube almond paste, about 1/4 cup of butter, and about 1/4 cup of sugar and process in food processor until it's creamy and spreadable. It should taste like the middle of an almond croissant--not too sweet.
Spread the almond paste mixture on half of the bread slices, lay them paste up on top of the cubes. Place the remaining slices on top so that you basically have paste sandwiches on top. Take the remaining cubes and distribute over the top.
At this point, we ran out of eggnog, so we took evaporated nonfat milk (though you could use regular milk or half and half), mixed with an egg and lots of cinnamon, a little nutmeg, maybe a little allspice, mace or cloves if you like, about 1 tsp of vanilla extract and 1/2 tsp of almond extract, and whisked. I think this actually yielded lighter and tastier results than eggnog throughout the whole dish, but if you're a big nog fan, you can just be lazy and use eggnog here as well.
Pour the milk mixture over the top so that every bit of bread has gotten some liquid. Bake at 325 for about 30 minutes. Increase heat to 350, cover the dish, and bake another 20 minutes or so, until there is no juice when you cut into it.
Meanwhile, make a hard sauce--melt butter over the stove, gradually add powdered sugar to the melted butter, stirring constantly until the texture resembles icing--it should be fully emulsified with no butter pooling or lumps of sugar. Turn off heat and add hard liquor of your choice--we used bourbon, but whisky, rum or brandy should work just as well. Stir quickly until blended.
Dish out bread pudding, pour hard sauce on top of each slice as you serve, and enjoy! If there's any extra hard sauce, let it cool completely before spreading it on top of the remaining bread pudding to put in the fridge--if you pour it on in liquid state, it will just soak into the pudding and make it soggy when you reheat.
That sounds good. I'd probably spread an almond paste filling in between the bread and use either amaretto or almond extract in the egg custard mix. I'm thinking of an almond paste filling like either the coffee cake filling or Danish coffee cake filling below:
I did find this almond croissant bread pudding which sounds really good:
Do you have some almond paste on hand, so you could test a few things? I have ground almonds, but no paste, so am just speculating.
Can you thin the paste with milk, and hence incorporate it with the egg and milk mixture? Some recipes call for buttering the bread first. Could you spread the paste on the bread? Or if crumbly, incorporate it with the nuts and raisins. Another option is to use almond extract to add almond flavor, without any texture contribution from the paste.