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Acadian Bread Pudding

Chef Patrick Mould of Louisiana School of Cooking says he never was a big fan of bread pudding. "I always found them either too sweet, or they had too much fruit and raisins. This bread pudding ... is short on sugar and instead is spiced mildly with nutmeg and cinnamon. The crunch from the pecans in the rum sauce is a nice balance to the creaminess of this traditional custard-based dessert."

Roasted Pecan Rum Sauce:
1/2 cup pecan halves
2 cups heavy whipping cream
4 tablespoons sugar
4 tablespoons light rum
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 tablespoon water
1 teaspoon orange zest

Bread pudding:
6 cups cubed day-old French bread
4 eggs
1 1/2 cups sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
3 1/2 cups milk
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

For Roasted Pecan Rum Sauce: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the pecans on a baking sheet and roast for 5 minutes. In a heavy sauce pot over medium heat, cook the cream for 3 minutes. Add the sugar and rum. Whisk the mixture until the sugar is dissolved.

Stir together cornstarch and water in a cup. Add this mixture to the cream, and stir for 2 to 3 minutes or until the mixture is thickened. Stir in the orange zest and pecans.

For Bread Pudding: Place French bread in a buttered 8-by-12-inch baking dish.

In a separate bowl, beat the eggs and sugar on high speed with a mixer for 3 to 4 minutes. Add the nutmeg, cinnamon, milk and butter and beat on low speed.

Pour the milk-egg mixture over the French bread. Let sit for one hour and 30 minutes.

Bake for 20 minutes, then lower temperature to 300 degrees, and bake an additional 20 minutes or until puffy and brown.

Top with Roasted Rum Pecan Sauce.

Makes 12 servings.

By chef Patrick Mould, Louisiana Cooking School & Cajun Store in St. Martinville, La.

Sunday, August 20, 2000

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