Food is a way of life in the south, and looking at southern cookbooks, magazines, and television shows, one could easily assume our favorite part of the meal is dessert. From church pot-luck suppers, to office holiday parties, to a night out with friends, desserts are always plentiful. It’s also fairly easy to sneak a little whiskey into your dessert recipe.
The recipe I’m sharing today is inspired by Chef Ed Lee, of 610 Magnolia in Louisville, Kentucky. I started with Chef Lee’s recipes for Sweet Potato Cornbread Pudding and Bourbon Sauce, but then messed with it a bit, because I can’t leave well enough alone. This recipe is broken into 4 steps; cornbread, sweet potatoes, custard, and sauce. If you’re like me and like to make cornbread regularly, this is a great way to use leftovers, and also save a little time when building the dish. Instead of the traditional, cloyingly sweet bread pudding, you end up with a dish that contrasts sweet and savory, and would make as good a breakfast as it would dessert.
You’ll notice I substitute dairy in most of my home cooking; my best friend’s daughter is allergic to dairy, so I’ve been experimenting with recipes to see what works for her, and what doesn’t. I’m pleased to say this recipe works exceptionally well with dairy substitutes.
Bread Pudding Ingredients
- 6 cups cornbread, cut into 1 inch cubes (any cornbread will work)
- 2 medium sweet potatoes
- ½ cup plus 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar, divided (Lee uses light, I prefer dark)
- 1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger
- 1 cup drunk raisins (1 cup raisins soaked in 1 cup bourbon 1-2 hours at room temperature)
- 1 cup whole milk (I use full fat almond milk)
- ½ cup heavy whipping cream (I use a mix of coconut cream and almond milk)
- 3 large eggs, lightly beaten
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- ½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (I usually use closer to a whole teaspoon)
- ¼ packed light brown sugar
- ¼ cup unsalted butter, softened (I use Miyoko’s Creamery Cultured Vegan Butter)
- ¼ cup finely chopped pecans
Bourbon Sauce Ingredients
- 1 cup cane syrup
- ½ cup unsalted butter (Miyoko’s for me)
- 1/3 cup heavy whipping cream (I use full fat almond milk here)
- 2 tablespoons bourbon (you can use more or less to taste)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Prick each sweet potato with a fork and wrap tightly in foil. Bake the sweet potatoes until they are tender – about an hour. Remove from oven and let stand until they are cool enough to handle. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees.
- Halve the sweet potatoes lengthwise and scoop out potato pulp into a medium bowl. Add the 2 tablespoons of brown sugar plus your ginger and mash together until mixed well.
- Drain your drunken raisins. In a separate bowl, combine the raisins and cornbread. Gently fold in mashed sweet potato mixture.
- In another bowl whisk together milk, cream, eggs, egg yolk, vanilla, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg, and remaining ½ cup of brown sugar. Pour this over the cornbread & sweet potato mixture, fold gently to combine, and then let stand for 10 minutes.
- Lightly grease 12 (6 ounce) ramekins, or one 13×9 baking dish. Pour your bread pudding into the ramekins and arrange them on a baking sheet.
- To make the topping, combine brown sugar, pecans, and butter in a small bowl, and then spread the mixture evenly across the top of bread pudding.
- Bake for 20-30 minutes, checking after 20 minutes to see if a toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. The 13×9 dish could take a bit longer, but you’ll still want to check after 20 minutes, and then every 5-10 minutes afterward, until the bread pudding is done. Allow to stand for at least 5 minutes before serving.
- To make the sauce: in a medium saucepan, heat sugar, butter, and cream over medium heat, until butter is melted; whisk continually to combine, but do not allow mixture to boil. Remove from heat and add bourbon to taste, whisking to incorporate. Drizzle sauce over pudding, or serve on the side. Serve warm.