Restaurants all over New Orleans and many places in Louisiana serve bread pudding as a grand finale. It's a specialty dessert for many casual and fine dining spots. This white chocolate raspberry bread pudding with vanilla-caramel sauce is extra special.
I think of bread pudding as a Louisiana, or Southern dessert. It actually dates back centuries to Europe. Bread pudding got its start as a way to use up stale bread. Frugal cooks as far back as 11th and 12th century Europe tried to recycle old bread and give it new life. They created different variations of sweet or savory bread pudding. Today, although served around the South and all over the U.S., bread pudding is a dessert New Orleans has embraced and made its own.
Similar to French Toast
Bread pudding is similar to French Toast. Most bread pudding recipes start with day old bread soaked in a mixture of milk, eggs and sugar, then baked. The texture is soft and spongy. Recipes usually call for the bread to be soaked at least an hour; you can also soak it overnight in the refrigerator.
Why French bread?
French bread is traditionally used in bread pudding. Tradition also says you must use stale bread. Bread pudding recipes were created as a way to use day-old bread. This kind of bread will also absorb more liquid (both custard and sauce) since it’s drier. If you have a new loaf, you can set it out on the counter a couple of hours to dry a bit, but honestly, I’m not sure it really makes a difference. Often I actually use a loaf purchased the same day with good results.
To serve Bread pudding, slice it in squares or wedges, or pile it on a plate. Serve it warm covered in a rich sweet sauce. The bread base soaks up any sauce so each bite is filled with flavor. Pecans, walnuts or raisins often top or fill the pudding. (Our vanilla-caramel sauce is pictured above.)
We add a raspberry sauce to finish our bread pudding recipe. It's fresh and delicious and gives a nice balance of tart and sweet. You can choose to strain out the raspberry seeds if you like.
Two sauces are even better!
The raspberry sauce adds color as well as flavor to our bread pudding. Bread pudding is often topped with a vanilla or caramel sauce, or a sauce using Bourbon/Whisky, Rum or Brandy. Our bread pudding adds white chocolate chips and chopped pecans with the bread. Garnish with raspberries and use two sauces: a sticky vanilla caramel sauce and a raspberry sauce.
We love the combination of the fruit and caramel in this show-stopping dessert. You could also add a swirl of whipped cream to finish with a flourish.
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White Chocolate Raspberry Bread Pudding
For Bread Pudding
- 1 loaf French Bread about 24 inches long; cut in ½ inch cubes (approximately 8 cups)
- 8 large eggs
- 4 cups cream
- 1 ¼ cups milk
- 1 ½ cups brown sugar
- ½ cup butter, melted and cooled
- 1 ½ cups white chocolate 8 ounces
For Vanilla Caramel Sauce
- 6 tablespoons butter
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- ½ cup brown sugar
- ½ cup cream
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- pinch salt
For Raspberry Sauce
- 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
- ½ cup sugar
- ¼ cup water
For Bread Pudding
- Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease 9 x 13 inch baking dish with butter.
- In a large bowl, beat together eggs, cream, milk, brown sugar, vanilla and salt. Mix in cooled melted butter.
- Cut bread into ½ cubes and mix in bowl with egg mixture; make sure all bread is soaked.
- Pour bread-egg mixture into prepared baking dish. Sprinkle with white chocolate chips and stir to evenly incorporate. Cover and refrigerator at least 30 minutes or over night.
- Bake covered 55-65 minutes (take off foil after 25 minutes) or until firm when pressed in center. Cool on rack until just warm, about 20 minutes. Serve warm with raspberry and vanilla-caramel sauces.
For Vanilla-Caramel Sauce
- In a medium sauce pan, melt butter. Add sugars, cream and salt, stirring constantly. Bring to boil, stirring constantly--let boil one minute.
- Turn off heat and add vanilla. Let sauce cool to warm, or reheat on low before serving. If you make ahead: Cover and refrigerate (will keep up to one week) Reheat on low when ready to serve.
For Raspberry Sauce:
- In a medium saucepan combine sugar and raspberries.
- Bring to boil, stirring frequently; reduce heat and simmer, about 5 minutes or until slightly thickened. Let cool.
- Press raspberry sauce through a strainer to remove seeds (optional). Chill, cover until ready to serve (up to one week).