This recipe belongs to Nigella Lawson, but I like to now refer to it as My Own Personal Secret Dessert Weapon. It’s amazing to think that 20 minutes in the stove, with blissful scents wafting throughout the house, can produce such a warming, fulfilling taste experience reminiscent of old cottages, roaring fireplaces and snuggling up under warm, vintage quilts.
We ended last night’s meal of beef short ribs on tagliatelle with some of this yummy dessert and a little limoncello. We were stuffed, literally could barely move from room to room. The thick dessert is full of sugar, cream, milk and eggs, and touched with bourbon and vanilla bean seeds (my addition, Nigella doesn’t use it in hers). I always serve this dessert warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream, preferably Brigham’s ice cream. It’s also very portable! On several occasions, I’ve cooled the caramel custard sauce and transported it separately from the croissants. Just pour over the stale croissants and bake for 20 minutes upon arrival at your destination.
One of my favorite variations on this recipe involved stale pandoro (panettone, without all the dried fruit). It was divine. That said, don’t go too far with variations. I’ve tried adding chocolate chips or nutella or bananas and, it’s just not the same. Keep it simple.
Caramel Croissant Pudding
- 2 stale croissants
- 1/2 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons water
- 1/2 cup heavy cream
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 knife slide of vanilla bean seeds
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Tear the croissants into pieces and put in a small gratin dish. I often double this recipe for 4-6 people, using a larger baking dish.
Put the sugar and water into a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before putting the saucepan on the hob over medium to high heat. Caramelize the sugar and water mixture by letting it bubble away until it all turns a deep amber color; this will take 3 to 5 minutes.
Take the pan off the heat and add the cream – ignoring all spluttering – followed by the bourbon and milk. Whisk to mix, then still whisking add the beaten eggs, and the vanilla bean seeds. Pour this quickly over the croissants and leave to steep for 10 minutes.
Place in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. I cook it for slightly longer, about 30 minutes, when doubling the recipe.