Bread pudding is a simple make ahead festive dessert for the holiday season. Cardamom brings in hints of lemon, ginger and smoke adding a layer of decadence to this twist on the holiday classic. An extra layer of warmth is added with an infused custard. Chai spices infuse a luxurious blend of milk and eggs that is soaked up by crusty country bread.
Serve with a drizzle of velvety salted caramel for an unforgettable end to your holiday dinner.
Place milk in a small saucepan and simmer with crushed cardamom pods for 15 minutes, allowing cardamom to perfume the milk. Prepare the spice blend while milk is simmering. Add spices to milk and simmer for an additional 5 minutes, this allows the spices to infuse into the milk without overpowering the cardamom. Allow to cool and strain.
In a large mixing bowl, pour the milk mixture over bread. Fold lightly until bread is covered and the mixture is fully absorbed.
Place pudding mixture in a greased loaf pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 25 minutes.
In a separate pot start caramelizing sugar over medium heat. Once small bubbles have formed (and sugar has melted) increase heat to high. Boil until the mixture comes to a boil and the caramel is an amber color. To finish, remove from heat and gradually add heavy cream. Add in small increments to avoid scalding. Once cream is well combined, add salt and butter.
In a stand mixer combine cream, butter, sugar and salt and beat on high until stiff peaks form.
To serve drizzle with salted caramel and a dollop of whipped cream. Serve warm.
Prepare bread at least two days prior. Dry porous bread will absorb more liquid allowing more flavor to permeate the bread. If time does not permit drying, place bread in a low heat oven (around 275 degrees) for 40-45 minutes.
When making the caramel sauce use a slightly larger pot; caramel tends to bubble vigorously once cream is added.