cups day-old baguette or other crusty bread, cubed
cups pumpkin purée
c. light brown sugar
c. pure maple syrup
tsp. ground cinnamon
tsp. fine salt
cups 2% milk
c. Cheddar cheese, plus extra for sprinkling, coarsely grated
c. pecan pieces, lightly toasted, plus extra for sprinkling
Sweetened whipped cream for garnish
Cinnamon for sprinkling
Preheat oven to 350° F. Grease an 8-inch square pan. Toss cubed bread with melted butter in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk pumpkin, brown sugar, maple syrup, cinnamon and salt. Whisk eggs and milk into pumpkin mixture and pour over bread. Stir and let sit for 15 minutes to soak in. Stir in cheese and pecan pieces and pour into prepared dish. Cover dish with parchment paper then foil and bake for 50 minutes. Remove cover and sprinkle with extra cheese and pecan pieces and bake for 10 to 15 minutes more, until center springs back when pressed.
Let bread pudding cool for 15 minutes before serving. Garnish with a dollop of sweetened whipped cream and sprinkle with cinnamon.
Like the last chapter of a good book, dessert should bring the meal to a memorable close. Satisfying on its own, this dessert becomes ethereal when served with whipped cream and maple syrup. This recipe can be baked ahead of time, chilled and then re-warmed in a 250° F oven for 25 minutes. Mild to medium Cheddars works best because their smooth, milky flavor doesn’t conflict with the sweetness of the dessert.
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