Back in the 1990's I discovered Caprial Pence on PBS. She has owned a few restaurants, was honored by the James Beard Foundation, and has authored several cookbooks including American Bistro Fare.
One of my favouite American Bistro Fare recipes, and one that I have made several times (so much so that I no longer need the recipe) is Pumpkin Bread Pudding. It's a great twist on the classic Pumpkin Pie and sure to become a favorite everywhere.
Much to my surprise, after sharing this recipe in person a few people have approached me to mention that they used this this recipe at Thanksgiving and received rave reviews from their guests. (It's kinda to neat to know that I provided the information that earned someone accolades).
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1 baguette, diced (I have found that most varieties of day old white bread works well too - and recently found that using Challah knocks everyone's socks off)
1 cup toasted pecans (a few times toasted chopped hazelnuts and that has gone over really well)
2 1/2 cups half and half
3/4 cup Pumpkin Puree (the Libby's in the can works great)
3/4 cup sugar (white sugar is fine, but everything tastes better with Turbinado sugar)
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 tablespoon crystallized ginger (rough chopped ginger, so that the pieces about the size of M&M's seems to be what produces the best results)
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg (grate your own - the flavor will be amazing!)
1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
Preheat over to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
The original recipe calls for a 10-inch springform pan, but I have found that well greased 8 or 9 inch square baking pans work well too. Place the diced bread in the pan, sprinkle the toasted pecans over the bread as evenly as possible.
In a medium bowl mix half and half, pumpkin, and 3/4 cup sugar. Then add brown sugar, eggs, vanilla, cinnamon, ground and crystallized ginger, nutmeg, and allspice.
Pour this mixture over the bread and mix well. Let stand about 20 minutes so the bread can absorb the pumpkin mixture. Give it a quick mix again just before placing it in the oven.
Bake for 45 minutes or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Without hesitation, I highly recommend jumping over to Amazon.com and checking out American Bistro Fare as well as Caprial's other books. American Bistro Fare has been out of print for some time, but there are previously owned copies available.