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Cherry Vanilla Brioche Pudding

(recipe, David Waltuck & Andrew Friedman)


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Introduction

Serve with Maple Star Anise Ice Cream.

Ingredients

    Compote
    1. 40 to 45 fresh sweet cherries
    2. 1 vanilla bean
    3. ½ cup sweet port wine
    4. ½ cup granulated sugar
    Pudding
    1. Eight ½-inch-thick slices brioche bread (about 11 ounces)
    2. 2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
    3. 1½ cups heavy cream
    4. 1½ cups whole milk
    5. 1 vanilla bean
    6. ⅔ cup granulated sugar
    7. ¼ tsp. salt
    8. 3 large egg yolks
    9. 2 large eggs
    10. 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened at room temperature

    Steps

    1. Make the cherry compote: Using a cherry pitter, remove the cherries’ pits. Run a paring knife down the center of one of the vanilla beans and scrape the seeds into a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan; add the split pod as well. Add the port and sugar, bring to a simmer, and let cook for 5 minutes. Add the pitted cherries, bring to a boil, then reduce the heat to a simmer and cook for 10 minutes, making sure to stir the mixture gently 2 or 3 times. Chill the compote over a bowl of ice until cool. (The compote will keep in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.)
    2. Make the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Trim off the hard brown crusts of the brioche and cut each slice into about 6 rectangles measuring 1¼ by 1½ inches. Lay these rectangular pieces of bread on a baking sheet and drizzle the melted butter over them. Bake until the rectangles are a golden brown. Set aside. Reduce the oven temperature to 275 degrees.
    3. Combine the cream and milk in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan. Slice open the vanilla bean and scrape all the tiny seeds into the pan. Add the scraped pod and set over medium-high heat. When the cream is almost boiling, remove from the heat and cover for 20 minutes to steep the mixture.
    4. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the sugar, salt, egg yolks, and whole eggs. Slowly, using a ladle, whisk some of the hot liquid into the egg mixture to warm it. Gradually pour the warmed egg mixture into the hot cream mixture, whisking the cream constantly as you pour. Don’t cook the custard; set it aside until the next step. Remove the vanilla pod. (Wash and dry it over the oven for another use.)
    5. You can bake this pudding in one 6-by-9-inch baking dish or in 6 individual ramekins. With the softened butter, grease the dish(es) you are using. If baking it in a single dish, spread the toasted bread over the bottom. Pick out about one-third of the cherries from the compote and intersperse them among the pieces of bread. Pour the warm custard over everything and leave the dish on the counter for 10 to 15 minutes, letting the bread soak up the custard. Bake until any bread chunks sticking out from the top are crispy and brown, 30 to 40 minutes. The center should not jiggle separately from the outside of the custard. If you push a piece of bread down in the center, it should have a very slight spring to it.
    6. If you are baking individual ramekins, place 3 pieces of toasted bread in the bottom of each ramekin. Use 3 bread cubes to line the sides. Set 3 cherries in the center of each ramekin and top the cherries with one final cube of toasted bread. Pour the warm custard over the top to fill the ramekins. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
    7. Serve the bread pudding warm. If you make it early in the day, reheat it in a preheated 300-degree oven for 10 minutes. If you have baked it in a large baking dish, simply serve a portion on a plate with the cherry compote and a scoop of maple star anise ice cream. If you are serving ramekins, pour some compote over the bread pudding and serve the ice cream on a side plate. You can also remove the pudding from the ramekins and serve on a plate with the cherry compote and ice cream.