My proclivity for rich, custardy breads can probably be traced back to times when I was still living at my parent’s house. Above the fridge, betwixt medicine and vitamin bottles and faux flower arrangements, sat bags of assorted breads, piled high and ready for the week’s consumption. There would be French baguettes, Italian rolls, white sandwich bread, buttery croissants. And if I was lucky: sweet, eggy bread from the Chinese bakery. I loved them so much I would sneak slices in throughout the day, hungry or not, just to satiate the yen.
Unfortunately, or fortunately, for my thigh’s sake, I haven’t been able to find a place that sells them where I live now. To fill that void, I’ve been buying King’s Hawaiian sweet breads, kindred in flavor and texture to the ones I grew up loving. Normally, I would just eat them plain or with a schmear of Irish butter but this week I had something else in mind.
I’d been toying around with an idea for bread pudding using King’s and adding a good sploshing of heady hard liquor but wasn’t settling on a good balance of flavors. I must have flitted through and scrapped a gazillion versions before ultimately deciding to use my old bread pudding recipe, the one with panettone in it, as a starting point.
In the end, what emerged out of the oven was studded with roasted macadamia nuts, filled with a lavish layer of spiced rum-spiked cream cheese, and doused in vanilla bean custard. To seal the deal: a sticky elixir laden with even more rum is poured over the whole thing right before serving.
It’s ooey. It’s gooey. It’s just the thing that will get you up in the morning. Or put you to bed at night.
King’s Hawaiian vanilla bean bread pudding with spiced rum gooey sauce
Makes a 10 x 14 cake pan size
For the bread pudding —
1 King’s Hawaiian round sweet bread loaf, cubed into 1″ squares, roughly
8 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons spiced rum (I used Jason’s favorite: Captain Morgan)
6 eggs, beaten lightly
1 cup half and half
1 vanilla bean, halved then seeds scraped and removed
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, Vietnamese if you’ve got it
1/2 cup roasted and salted macadamia nuts, chopped roughly
For the spiced rum gooey sauce —
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/4 cup agave nectar
2 tablespoons spiced rum
Grease a 10 x 14 cake pan with butter. Tumble in half of the cubed bread and spread it out nicely. In a medium-sized bowl, mix together the cream cheese, light brown sugar, agave nectar, spiced rum and salt. Spread this mixture over the bread in the pan. It’s a bit on the thick side, so use a spoon or knife to make sure it evenly covers all cubes. Add the last layer of bread cubes over the top and spread out. In the bowl with the lightly beaten eggs, add the half and half, vanilla bean seeds, and ground cinnamon and whisk to combine. Pour this over the bread cubes, making sure all of it gets doused well. Press down gently to saturate every cube. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
The next day, preheat the oven to 350 degrees and set the bread pudding out on the counter to come up to room temperature slightly.
Sprinkle the top with the chopped macadamia nuts. Place the pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour or until the middle is set. If the top starts to brown too quickly, throw a piece of foil over it. Honestly though, the crunchy bits on top are my favorite.
Let this sit for about 15-20 minutes before serving. While you’re waiting, make the sauce.
In a small saucepan set over medium heat, warm the half and half, light brown sugar, agave nectar, spiced rum and salt. Let it come to a slight bubble and let it reduce and thicken, about 5 minutes. Pour this directly over the bread pudding when you’re about to serve. Delish.