A week ago, I stumbled upon a package store in the small town I live in, that carries Amarula. I was so giddy I almost broke out into spontaneous dance right there in the aisle! For those of you who don't know, Amarula is Africa's answer to Bailey's Irish Cream. It is made from the fruit of the Marula, or "Elephant" tree and is distilled in South Africa. Besides crude oil, this stuff is Africa's liquid gold. I hardly ever drink liqueur, but this bottle I knew I had to get. I had plans for it. Plans that involved brownies, chocolate and whipping cream. Do I have your attention yet? Yes, I was going to use it to make a dessert! So a trip to the grocery store two days later, and I had all I needed to make a decadent bread pudding that was divine. Not overly sweet, yet very comforting to the palate. The warm Amarula cream sauce that I drizzled over it dressed it up beautifully! So let my creation take your taste buds on a culinary safari-no passport or visa required. Don't forget to pack your appetite. Enjoy the ride :-)
PS: WILL NOT GET YOU DRUNK-THE ALCOHOL IN THE AMARULA COOKS OFF DURING COOKING ;-)
SERVING SIZE: Feeds 8 sufficiently
EQUIPMENT:-9x13 inch oven-safe baking dish that has been buttered.
-3 mixing bowls (one medium, one small and one large).
-Cutting board and serrated knife (to cube your bread)
-Small cooking pot.
INGREDIENTS FOR PUDDING:
-1 loaf stale French bread, cubed (I bought mine and let it sit in it's package for 3 days at room temp. You want it dry, but not moldy. The drier your bread, the better it will absorb the pudding).
-6 Oz. semi-sweet chocolate chips (1 cup). I used Ghiardelli brand.
-1 heaped teaspoon of instant espresso coffee powder brewed in 1 cup of water and cooled.
-1 cup granulated sugar.
-1/2 cup light brown sugar.
-1/4 cup sifted unsweetened cocoa powder.
-1 teaspoon ground cardamom.
-1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon.
-1/4 teaspoon salt (I use Kosher salt).
-1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract (for pudding).
-2 cups heavy whipping cream.
-1 cup evaporated milk (I used carnation brand. Please do not use sweetened condensed milk).
-1/2 cup Amarula cream liqueur.
-5 large eggs, lightly beaten.
-2 fudge brownie squares broken into small pieces (optional).
INGREDIENTS FOR THE AMARULA CREAM SAUCE:
-1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract (for cream sauce)
-1 7 Oz. can of table cream (I used Nestle brand. You can find this in the international aisle of the grocery store in the Hispanic food section).
-1 1/2 tablespoons of Amarula cream liqueur.
-2 tablespoons of granulated sugar.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE BREAD PUDDING:
-Begin by preparing your baking dish by applying butter to the inside to prevent your pudding from sticking. Place the cubed bread and distribute the chocolate chips evenly in the bowl and set aside. I had made fudge brownies the day before and thought they would make a great addition to the bread pudding. I broke two brownie squares and added them in with the bread and chocolate chips (I'm glad I did!). This is an optional step.
-In the big mixing bowl, combine the evaporated milk, cooled espresso, whipping cream and Amarula. Whisk together well.
-In the medium mixing bowl, combine the sifted cocoa powder, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, brown sugar and granulated sugar and mix well.
-Combine the wet and dry ingredients and whisk well to combine.
-In the small bowl, combine the eggs and 1 tablespoon of pure vanilla extract and whisk well. Add the eggs/vanilla to the rest of wet/dry ingredients and mix well to form a custard.
-Pour the custard over the bread and chocolate in the baking dish. Turn the pieces of bread around in the baking dish gently to ensure that they are well coated with the pudding. use a spatula to press down the bread in the baking pan.
-Cover the bread/ pudding mixture with aluminium foil and put it in the refrigerator for at least one hour so that the bread absorbs the custard (I let mine sit for 3 hours).
***PREHEAT YOUR OVEN TO 325 DEGREES FAHRENHEIT AFTER THE PUDDING HAS SAT FOR AT LEAST AN HOUR***
-With the aluminium foil still on the baking dish, place it in the middle rack of the oven and let it bake for 45mins-1 hour until a knife or toothpick inserted in the middle of the pudding comes out clean, and not wet (I let mine bake for 1 hour). In the last 15 minutes of baking, remove the aluminium foil from the baking dish and let the pudding cook uncovered. Once it's done cooking, remove the bread pudding from the oven and let it sit for 10 mins before you eat it. It will be hot.
INSTRUCTIONS FOR THE AMARULA CREAM SAUCE:
-In the small cooking pot, combine all the ingredients for your Amarula cream sauce and let simmer on medium-low heat on the stove for 10-15 minutes as your bread pudding cools. Stir occasionally.
-Once your Amarula cream sauce is done cooking, serve in individual bowls and drizzle the hot cream sauce over the bread pudding. Close your eyes and let your senses indulge. Mmmm! Here's a South African music video from one of my favorite groups to help complete the experience :-)