Yes, I am posting two rhubarb recipes in a row, this one even more decadent than last week's. You read the title right, there's RUM added to the caramel. Go ahead and substitute BOURBON if you want to, either way it's a sinful reward for all of the green veggies and lean proteins you have been so diligently nibbling on. Rhubarb is in season right now and this is a great treat for a a rainy day's luxurious dinner or brunch dessert. You could freeze your rhubarb and bookmark this recipe for the end of September too, if you wanted to, when blustery fall days beckon for boozy caramel atop buttered bread & tart spring rhubarb. Basically, this dessert is best summed up by the words of the brilliant Cole Porter: "It's delightful, it's delicious, it's delectable, it's delirious, it's dilemma, it's delimit, it's deluxe, it's de-lovely." Rhubarb is glistening right now, don't let it grow too tall. Helpful rhubarb pointers here. Oh, did I mention freshly ground cardamom? Finally an excuse to use your mortar & pestle! It's dilemma, it's delimit, it's deluxe, it's de-lovely.
Rhubarb & Cardamom Bread Pudding with Rum Caramel Sauce
Makes 9”x13” pan or large casserole
For the topping:
2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon of freshly ground cardamom
For the bread pudding:
4 large eggs, plus 1 egg yolk
1/2 cup white sugar
1/3 cup brown sugar
2 cups whole milk
2 cups heavy cream
3 tablespoons dark rum or bourbon
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste or 1 fresh vanilla bean, scraped
1/2 to 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 cups chopped rhubarb
12 ounces good quality rich bread, such as Brioche, challah, sourdough, etc., cut into 1” cubes (about 8 cups) plus 2 slices
3 tablespoons butter, melted
For the caramel sauce:
8 ounces Annie B’s baking caramel (1/2 block)
1/3 cup heavy cream or evaporated milk
1 to 2 tablespoons dark rum or bourbon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract or vanilla bean paste
For topping and bread pudding:
- Mix 2 tablespoons brown sugar, cinnamon and pinch cardamom in small bowl. Set aside.
- Heat oven to 325 degrees F. Butter large casserole dish or 9”x13” pan.
- Spread bread cubes in single layer on 2 rimmed baking sheets. Bake, tossing occasionally, until just dry, about 10-15 minutes. Cool bread cubes.
- Whisk together eggs, yolk, and sugars in a large bowl until well blended. Whisk in milk, cream, rum, vanilla, cardamom, and salt. Fold in rhubarb. Fold in toasted bread cubes. Mix well to moisten.
- Let mixture stand until well absorbed, about 15 minutes. Pour into prepared pan.
- Cut remaining two slices of bread into cubes. Scatter over the top of the mixture, pressing slightly to partially submerge.
- Melt butter and drizzle or brush over the bread cubes. Sprinkle with topping mixture.
- Bake until the pudding turns deep golden brown, is beginning to rise up the sides of the baking dish, and jiggles very slightly at the center when shaken, 45-50 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool until set but still warm.
- Serve warm with caramel rum sauce.
For the caramel rum sauce:
- In heavy saucepan over low heat, melt caramel and cream. Remove from heat and stir in rum and vanilla.
- Serve warm over warm bread pudding.
- Store leftover bread pudding and/or caramel sauce in the refrigerator.
- Many cooks remove baked products before they have had a chance to brown sufficiently. Items seem to look a bit more browned in the oven than they do when cooling, so don’t be afraid to cook until sufficiently cooked. If it looks too browned and is not set, cover with foil while it finishes baking. With bread pudding, it is a custard, so will continue to cook and set once removed from the oven.
- If you prefer the flavor of bourbon, substitute equal amounts of bourbon for the rum, or use flavored extracts and reduce the amount to taste.
- Many use bread pudding as a way to use up stale bread. While this is an excellent reason to make bread pudding, using fresh bread will result in a higher quality product.
- Substitute half and half for the milk and cream. Might result in a bit runnier pudding. For a richer, less eggy flavored pudding, substitute 9 egg yolks for the whole eggs.
- Cardamom loses its flavor quickly, so it is important to freshly grind cardamom pods with a mortar and pestle or in a spice grinder instead of using purchased ground cardamom. Adding 1/2 teaspoon gives a wonderful subtle undernote, but if you wish a more pronounced flavor, add 1 teaspoon.
- As for the rum, 2 tablespoons of dark rum adds a pretty rich rum flavor in the sauce. If you wish the caramel to be the star, back off and use 1 tablespoon.