Dessert is pretty much synonymous with chocolate in our house. Chocolate souffles, hot fudge sundaes, and fondant au chocolat… as long as there is chocolate involved, my kids, my husband, and I just can’t say no. Fruit desserts, on the other hand, can be a tough sell, but at the height of apple season, this salted caramel apple bread pudding is as much of a hit as any hot melt in your mouth chocolate concoction.
The salted caramel drizzle is what takes this dessert from good to delicious. It’s a gooey blend of fall comfort food flavors. Throw a scoop of vanilla bean ice cream on top and you’ll be moaning with every sweet, hot, and subtly salty bite.
Nothing about bread pudding should be confusing. Each bite should be soft and warm, simple comfort and sweetness. I cook the apples into apple sauce to keep any apple chunks from adding unnecessary crunch and texture. The apples become sweeter, and their flavor more intense, and it’s a great time to infuse them with spices, adding interesting notes with Chinese five spice powder.
When the weather turns frigid and even the apples at the supermarket are dull and flavorless, we’ll be able to indulge in chocolate to our heart’s content. But as long as the apples are crispy and beautiful and the leaves are falling, we’ll revel in this decadent bread pudding come dessert time.
- Bread Custard:
- 6 cups of leftover stale bread (1 package of sliced bread)
- 6 eggs (large)
- 1 cup of 2% milk
- 1 cup of heavy cream
- ½ cup dark brown sugar
- 2 Tablespoons of vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoons of Chinese five spice
- ¼ teaspoon of kosher salt
- 6 granny smith apples
- ¼ cup of grade B maple syrup
- ¼ cup of dark brown sugar
- Salted Caramel
- ¼ cup of granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons of butter
- 1 teaspoon of kosher salt
- 3 tablespoons of heavy cream (with another 2 tablespoons in case the sauce separates)
- In a large bowl, combine the eggs, milk, heavy cream, five spice powder, sugar, salt, and vanilla. Whisk until blended.
- Add bread cubes and push in until all the liquid is absorbed. Let mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes.
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a bread pan with generous amounts of butter.
- Peel and dice the apples into coarse chunks. Place them in a medium saucepan with ½ cup of water, maple syrup and vanilla. Cook on medium-low heat until apples are completely soft. Using a fork, mush the apples roughly. You want to leave some texture here. This is not applesauce that needs to be fed to a baby.
- Remove the bread mixture from the fridge. Pour the apple sauce on top and swirl it a few times with a wooden spoon. You don't want to combine it too thoroughly. Leave a few spots in your batter without apple sauce and vice versa.
- Pour the mixture into the greased bread pan and bake for 50 to 60 minutes, when a knife comes out clean from the center of the bread pudding.
- To make the salted caramel glaze, pour the granulated sugar in a small frying pan. Heat on medium, let the sugar melt and turn a light copper. Take off the heat and add the butter, stirring vigorously. Once the butter is incorporated, add the heavy cream and put back on low heat for 2 to 3 minutes to bring the sauce together. If the sauce seems to be separating and chunking up, add another tablespoon or two of heavy cream. This is a glaze, you're only going to have a little bit, now is not the time to worry about being too generous with the heavy cream.
- To finish, toss in the salt and mix with a spoon until just incorporated.
- Drizzle the caramel sauce on the warm bread pudding. Watch it all meld into a delicious, fall treat. Save a little glaze to put on top of ice cream. Once you have it whipped up, you'll be adding it everywhere.
- Serve warm topped with vanilla ice cream, or after chilling.