There is nothing not to love about this baked treat: bread pudding that is saturated and soft at its base, with the crunch of cooked sugar and toast at its top. The middle, you ask? It is filled with the zing of lemon zest, creamy mascarpone, and cooked fruit. Huzzah. —Melina Hammer
8 to 12
For the bread:
loaf challah, sliced 1/2-inch thick and toasted
1 1/2 cups
ripe persimmons, seeded and mashed (I used wild persimmons, but Fuyu make a fine substitute)
butter, for greasing the pan
demerara sugar, for sprinkling
walnuts, toasted and coarsely chopped
heavy cream, for serving
To pour over bread:
whole milk (use grass-fed if possible), divided
In a large bowl, combine all but 1/4 cup of the milk and 1/4 cup of the rum with the eggs, brown sugar, and spices. Whisk well to combine. Set aside.
Slather mascarpone-zest mixture on each challah slice, followed by a smear of the mashed persimmon. You may find you have some mascarpone leftover. If so, save it for just before baking. Cut slices into halves.
Grease a baking dish and scatter Demerara sugar over the surface. Stagger bread slices in pan, crusts tilted up.
Pour milk-rum-egg mixture evenly over bread layers, then scatter walnuts all over. Allow the bread to soak in the liquid overnight.
Heat oven to 350° F. Remove pan from fridge. Stir together remainder of milk and rum and gently pour onto bread faces (not the top crusts). If you have any leftover mascarpone, place little dabs around. (I had less than 2 tablespoons left and did it this way, and it was great.)
Sprinkle Demerara sugar over bread layers and bake until top crusts are deeply golden and crispy, about 20 to 25 minutes.
Whip cream into firm peaks and chill. When pudding is ready, allow to cool for ten minutes on a wire rack. Serve this spiced, heavenly treat warm, with dollops of cream. Makes for a decadent breakfast or a perfect dessert.
When she's not cooking, styling, and shooting her own creations for her blog Licking the Plate, Melina loves making food look its best for the New York Times, Eating Well, Sweet Paul, Edible, and other folks who love real food. Decidedly a good food champion, she wrote the cookbook Kid Chef to empower foodie kids (and kids-at-heart) in the kitchen. http://amzn.to/1XmaEgB