3 cups cubed bread, packed (I used gluten-free bread)
3/4 cup raisins
3/4 cup coarsely chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups 10% half-and-half cream
1 cup 35% cream
3 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple Caramel Sauce:
1 cup granulated sugar
6 Tablespoons butter, room temperature
1/4 cup 35% cream
1/4 cup maple syrup
pinch of salt
Grease 6-8 six-ounce oven safe ramekins with butter. Set aside.
Place the bread cubes, raisins, and chopped nuts in a large bowl.
In a saucepan over medium heat, melt 1/4 cup butter. Add the brown sugar, maple syrup, and salt, stirring until the sugar has dissolved.
In a large bowl, whisk the 10% half-and-half cream, 35% cream, eggs, and vanilla until smooth. Add the brown sugar/maple syrup mixture. Whisk to fully incorporate. Pour over the bread cubes, stirring so that the bread is completely coated with the cream mixture.
Let the bread soak for 30-45 minutes, pushing the bread cubes down into the cream mixture occasionally.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Divide the mixture evenly between the prepared ramekins (be sure to scoop down for the raisins, and nuts, they have a tendency to sink). Cover each ramekin with aluminium foil and place in a 9x13-inch pan with sides. Pour hot water into the larger pan, until it is about half way up the side of the ramekins. Bake in preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil, and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes, or until the tops are puffed up, and the bread is beginning to brown. A knife inserted into the middle of the pudding should come out clean.
Remove from oven, and carefully move individual ramekins to a cooling rack. Bread puddings are best served warm or cool. Serve with a drizzle of warm Maple Caramel Syrup (recipe follows.)
Maple Caramel Sauce:
When making caramel sauce, you should measure out all your ingredients ahead of time. Otherwise, your sugar may burn and you will not have a pleasant tasting sauce.
Place the sugar in a heavy bottom 1 1/2 quart sauce pan over medium-high heat, whisking as it melts. It will clump up before becoming a liquid, just continue whisking.
Once the sugar has all liquefied, stop whisking and let it continue to cook. Gently swirl the pan if necessary, the sugar will begin to turn caramel colour fairly quickly. When the melted sugar becomes a reddish-amber colour, or 350 degrees F on an instant read candy thermometer, carefully add all the butter at once and stir until completely melted.
Remove from heat, and stir in the 35% cream, maple syrup, and salt. Be careful, it will steam and sputter a bit while you add the cool liquids to the hot sugar. Continue to whisk until the sauce becomes a nice smooth consistency.
Let sauce cool for 10 minutes before storing in a glass jar. The sauce can be made ahead of time and gently reheat in the microwave in 15 second intervals before serving.
Recipe by The Baking Beauties at http://www.thebakingbeauties.com/2013/10/maple-butter-tart-bread-pudding.html