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All Hallows Eve is quickly becoming my favorite holiday. I realized this when I recently went down to my basement to gather all my ghoulish decorations and my traditionally Christmas decorations looked as though they had some competition. This feeling was reinforced when my son and I were staging our front lawn and a car slowed down in our cul-de-sac and the back window rolled down and a young little Princess politely asked when our Halloween house would be ready? The young girl’s mother then chimed in that we are known for having the best Halloween decorations in the neighborhood… score.

 

So, we traditionally set up a fire pit in the middle of the cul-de-sac for all our neighbors to sit around as we dish out treats to the 1,000+ people that come far and wide to haunt our streets. It is a delightfully entertaining night to see all the colorful and creative costumes but it is also taxingly long what with refilling the candy cauldron, scaring prowlers away from the decorations and keeping tabs on my own ghouls (sounds like the average shift with the crew). So, my goal is to provide a Halloween themed dessert to keep all the parents happily stuffed.

 

My love for bread pudding and pumpkin pie is well chronicled so I felt compelled to try and combine the two together. The result was quite surprising. The dish offered the homey decadence of bread pudding crossed with the creamy, spiced pumpkin flavor. And for the piece-de-resistance, top the pudding with a quick caramel sauce, it will be guaranteed to be the talk of the night.

 

A few after the fire critiques: for those in the hunt for all things natural, you can secure some sugar pumpkins to roast, scoop and puree en lieu of using the canned variety but it is not necessary. When selecting a good canned pumpkin, make sure it is NOT pumpkin pie filling (disaster). I have been known to reduce the pumpkin puree on the stovetop to remove much of the water content and deepen it’s inherent flavors, a fun twist to mix it up. Lastly, this can be made ahead of time and rewarmed in an oven before serving, always a plus.

 

Fuel

 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

 

Canned Pumpkin (15 ounce can)

or

Roasted Pumpkin (Sugar Pumpkin or similar, 1-2)

Challah Bread (French of Sour Dough are fine)

1 Cup Heavy Cream

1 Cup Whole Milk

2 Eggs (Beaten)

1 Cup Brown Sugar

1 Tbsp. Cinnamon

2 tsp. ground Allspice

2 tsp. ground Nutmeg

1 tsp. Cloves

1 tsp. Vanilla

 

Quick Caramel Sauce

 

¼ Cup Unsalted Butter (at room temp.)

1 Cup Brown Sugar

½ Cup Heavy Cream

1 tsp. Salt

 

Tools

 

7” x 11” Baking Dish

Various Bowls

Small Sauté Pan

Medium Saucepan

Spice/Coffee Grinder

Whisk

Spatula

 

Tactics

 

Pumpkin Bread Pudding

 

Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut bread into ¾” thick slices and then into bite size pieces. Place the pumpkin puree, heavy cream, milk, eggs and brown sugar in a large bowl and mix to combine. Add the spices (allspice, cinnamon, clove and nutmeg) and vanilla and mix to incorporate. Toss bread cubes into the bowl and gently toss to coat. Carefully pour the pumpkin bread into the baking dish and set aside for a minimum of 15 minutes or up to all night. Place in the middle of the oven of 35-40 minutes or until a toothpick is drawn clean from the middle. Place on a rack to cool. Slice into 3”x 3” cubes and serve with powdered sugar and quick caramel sauce.

 

Quick Caramel Sauce

 

Place a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add the butter and brown sugar and allow the butter to melt. Stir for 2 minutes until the sugar crystals dissolve. Add the heavy cream and stir for 1 minute. Bring the sugar to a gentle boil for two minutes and then remove from heat. Allow it to cool and use immediately or store for up to a week.

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