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Summer is Sweet and so is Bread Pudding

Summertime is picnic time and whether we are organizing our own family and friends or are graciously invited to attend someone else's picnic we always want to bring a dish to pass.

Most families have their favorite recipes for potato salad, pasta salad or some kind of multiple layer salad. These dishes tend to show up in good numbers at most picnics and many of them are simply delicious.

One dish that most of us can't seem to get enough of is dessert. We want to taste all the inventive, sweet and tasty morsels from somebody else's kitchen. We, however, can be one of the stars of the picnic table with a beautiful and unique dessert.

A dessert that's going to be easily transported, not need refrigeration or need to be served warm. Cookies can always fit that bill, and some folks stop at the local grocery store, buy some cookies, and bring them to the picnic as their contribution. But you are not one such as that.

Our recipe today is going to be Apple Bread Pudding and Pecan Pralines. Apple bread pudding is considered by many to be the Apple Pie of Louisiana. Many different cultures have converged in the southern state of Louisiana and most of them have some influence in bread pudding. Typical recipes start with some type of day old bread, additionally utilizing German ingredients such as eggs and dairy products. Of course it just wouldn't seem Louisiana without some French influence, so we have pralines.

Pralines were originally developed in 17th century France utilizing almonds. As the French made their way into Louisiana the local favorite nut was the pecan. Thus was born Pecan Praline. In New Orleans pecan pralines are often served after dinner as a candy with a cup coffee. In this case we're going to garnish our wonderful Apple Bread Pudding with this sweet and tasty confection.

Pecan Pralines

Yield: 12 portions

1 lb Brown sugar

3 Tbl unsalted butter

1/2 cup water

1 pound whole pecans

pinch of salt

Line 1 baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.

Combine the brown sugar, butter and water in a saucepan over medium heat. Gently stir until the sugar completely dissolves, then continue to cook for 3 to 4 more minutes. When the mixture begins to boil, add the pecans and continue to cook for 4 to 5 more minutes.

Remove from heat. Drop the pecans by the spoonful onto your prepared lined baking sheet. Allow pecans to cool, and remove from the paper. 

These may be stored in an airtight container for up to 10 days.

Apple Bread Pudding with Pecan Pralines

Yield: 12 portions

6 ounces brioche or croissant, two days old

1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted

2 cups whole milk

4 large eggs

1 tsp cinnamon 

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

3/4 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla

3 apples, such as Granny Smith, peeled, cored and sliced

1/4 tsp salt

powdered sugar for garnish

Preheat oven to 350.

Break up the bread into small pieces place in a mixing bowl and toss to coat with the melted butter. Set aside. Butter the sides of a 9 x 13 x 2 cake pan lining the bottom with parchment paper.

Place the milk in a saucepan, bring to a boil and remove from the heat place the eggs sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla in a large bowl and whisk until thoroughly combined. Very slowly, while whisking vigorously, temper the hot milk into the eggs and sugar mixture. Toss the egg mixture with the bread and fold in the apples. Pour into the buttered 9 x 13 cake pan and allow to stand for 1 hour to allow the bread to absorb the liquid.

Bake for up to one hour. A light crust should form on the top and the center just starting to get firm.

When baked and cooled garnish with the pralines and dust with powdered sugar.

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