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Seriously Simple: Sticky Date and Almond Bread Pudding with Amaretto Zabaglione

By Diane Rossen Worthington, Tribune Content Agency on

Homespun bread pudding, made from dried bread and rich custard, has come a long way. Today's restaurant menus feature myriad adaptations with gingerbread, white chocolate and lemon, to name just a few. Served in souffle dishes, in individual ramekins or in a shallow baking dish, bread puddings are difficult to resist because of their old-fashioned quality.

Simple to put together, this dessert can be as versatile as your imagination. I like to serve it during the holiday season because it seems to satisfy all the generations. It's also wonderful during the chilly winter months. This particular version is based on an idea of a sticky toffee pudding. Cut-up dried dates and almonds are combined with toasted egg bread, and then the mixture is bathed in a vanilla-scented custard. I have served this at casual family gatherings and major holiday parties with great success.

The zabaglione is a luscious accompaniment. If you are in a hurry, you can make a quick ice cream sauce instead by defrosting a pint of dulce de leche ice cream and whisking it in a bowl. Spoon it over the warm pudding.

Helpful Hints:

--Use a good-quality bread like challah or brioche.

--Make sure to dry the bread out so it can absorb the custard. You can do this by putting it out on the counter overnight or in a 250F oven for half an hour.

 

--Allow time for most of the custard to absorb into the bread before it goes into the oven. Let it sit until you can feel that a cube is soaked through to the center.

--Advance Preparation: This can be prepared up to 4 hours ahead, covered and left at room temperature. It can also be made a day ahead and served chilled. It can also be reheated.

Sticky Date and Almond Bread Pudding with Amaretto Zabaglione

This recipe needs to be started a day ahead in order to let the bread cubes dry out.

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