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It's a breakfast; it's a dessert. Either way, you'll want to add this simple yet lusciously delicious recipe to your cozy (comfort) food repertoire. My favorite part is both the caramelized sugary edges of the chunks of baguette and the sauce--a sweet buttery light caramel infused with red pear. And while it's sublime served warm with a healthy dribble of the sauce, it won't be half bad spooned into your mouth straight from the fridge during the midnight raid, either.

I used a sourdough baguette, which highlights the tart flavor of the buttermilk and provides a nice tongue-tingle against the sweet pears. If you like a standard baguette or even whole wheat better, use it.

If you can't find red pears, Anjou or Bartlett pears will work fine.

Notes: Butter is unsalted. Milk is 2%.



Ingredients: 5 cups (about 3/4 lb.) baguette pieces, three large eggs, 1 cup buttermilk, 2/3 cup milk, 1/2 tsp. cinnamon, 1 tsp. vanilla extract, 2 tbsp. butter, 1/3 cup pure maple syrup, 1/4 cup bourbon, and powdered sugar for dusting. For the Red Pear Caramel Sauce: 1 red pear chopped, 1/4 cup butter (1/2 stick), 2 tbsp. corn syrup, scant 1/3 cup sugar, 1/4 cup warm milk, 1 tsp. vanilla extract and a pinch of sea salt.

Serves 4-6.

1. Preheat the oven to 375* F. Grease a 10-inch cast iron skillet or 9-inch baking dish with butter or cooking spray.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, buttermilk, milk, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Place the baguette pieces into the skillet, then pour over the egg mixture. Press the bread down to help it absorb, and let it rest for 30 minutes.

3. In a small saucepan, heat two tablespoons of butter over low heat until melted. Whisk in the bourbon and maple syrup. Pour evenly over the bread/egg mixture in the skillet. Bake the bread pudding for 45-55 minutes until completely set and golden brown. (Check at 35 minutes, if browning too quickly, lay over a piece of foil.)

4. Make the Red Pear Caramel Sauce: In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, melt the butter. Once melted, whisk in the warm milk, sugar, and corn syrup. Turn the heat to medium and bring the sauce to a simmer. Continue simmering and whisking regularly for 7-9 minutes until the sauce turns light golden. Remove from the heat and stir in the pear, vanilla, and salt. Rest for 5 minutes to cool slightly.

5. Serve the warm bread pudding dusted with powdered sugar, with pear sauce spooned over the top.

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  1. To make the caramel sauce darker in color: Use light brown sugar instead of white sugar. Technically, the sauce will now be a thin "butterscotch" since butterscotch is made with brown sugar and caramel is made with white. It will also have a richer, buttery flavor.

  2. To substitute the bourbon: Use scotch or whiskey. If you don't want to use alcohol (even though the alcohol cooks out), use apple juice or cider.

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