Challah Bread Pudding
Bread pudding is a toast lover’s dessert. It’s got all the crunch of your everyday breakfast toast, all the soft milk-and-eggs custard of French toast, and if you’re doing it right, all the over-the-top-buttery-sweet goodness of caramel. This recipe is all that, plus it’s made with plant-based butter and milk, so it’s dairy-free. And, oh my, my, my, is it scrumptious — from the very first bite, it had our test kitchen tasters in a bit of a reverie.
Bread pudding is also one of the easier desserts to make, and it’s a fun one to do with older kids because the steps are simple and there’s a lot of dumping, whisking, and sprinkling involved.
We do have some great tips from the test kitchen. We toast our challah first, so it’s extra dry and crispy. That helps it absorb more of the eggy milk, creating that luscious, custardy texture on the interior of the pudding — while the exterior stays nice and crunchy. The milk is also where the bulk of flavor comes from: here, we’ve laced it with vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. You can use any nut milk, but we like Califia almond milk. It’s a little thicker than some, and it has a rich, nutty flavor that complements those warm spices.
For the plant-based caramel, we use coconut milk and coconut sugar. The coconut flavor just makes the caramel all the more delectable. As it’s cooling, we swirl rum, vanilla, and Miyoko’s vegan butter through the caramel for richness and depth — if you can resist dipping your spoon into it a few dozen times, you have more willpower than we do ...
It might help to know that the slightly boozy caramel is fantastic spooned over the warm bread pudding. When we handed around the ramekins for tasting, the room fell into a hush: all you could hear were the clanking spoons and murmured yums.
We’d serve bread pudding at Rosh Hashanah. It’s a rustic, messy tumble of a dessert, but the ramekins give it a contemporary sophistication that will work at a more formal meal. Of course, we like the ramekins because they ensure that you get everything the pudding has to offer — the toasty bits and the custardy bits — and you don’t have to share.
For the bread pudding:
- Cooking spray
- ½ cup hot water
- ¼ cup raisins
- 1 medium challah loaf, cut into 1” cubes (7 cups)
- 3 Gelson’s eggs
- ½ cup packed brown sugar
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp Gelson’s ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp Gelson’s ground nutmeg
- 1 ¾ cups almond milk
- ¼ cup Miyoko’s vegan butter, melted and cooled
For the caramel sauce:
- 1 13 ½-oz can full-fat coconut milk
- ½ cup coconut sugar
- ½ tsp sea salt
- 1 Tbsp rum (optional)
- 1 tsp Miyoko’s vegan butter
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
To make the bread pudding: Preheat the oven to 350°. Grease 8 ramekins with cooking spray.
In a small bowl of hot water, soak the raisins for 10 minutes, then drain.
Place the cubed challah on a baking sheet. Bake for 6 to 8 minutes, or until the bread is toasted and golden brown on the edges.
Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, brown sugar, granulated sugar, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Add the almond milk and vegan butter, and stir until combined.
Divide half of the toasted bread among the greased ramekins. Divide and sprinkle the raisins over the bread. Divide the remaining bread among the ramekins.
Divide and pour the egg mixture over the bread and raisins. Gently stir and press, using the back of your spoon, to make sure all the bread has been coated with the egg mixture.
Bake for 20 minutes, then cover the tops of the ramekins with a large sheet of aluminum foil and bake for 18 to 22 minutes more, or until a knife inserted in the centers comes out clean and the edges are brown.
Meanwhile, to make the caramel sauce: In a saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the full-fat coconut milk, coconut sugar, and sea salt.
Bring the mixture to a boil (keeping a close eye on it, as it can quickly boil over), then immediately reduce heat to medium-low, keeping the sauce at a light simmer.
Simmer for 30 to 35 minutes, stirring occasionally. As the sauce reaches the last 10 minutes of cooking time, stir more frequently to incorporate the darker caramel bits from the bottom into the sauce.
Once the sauce has turned a dark amber and has thickened to coat the back of a spoon, remove from heat and stir in the rum, vegan butter, and vanilla extract.
Drizzle each bread pudding, warm or at room temperature, with caramel sauce. Enjoy!
To store, cover the tops of each ramekin with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Reheat in a 350° oven for 5 to 10 minutes, or until warmed through (if desired).