When it comes to bread pudding, a Louisiana boy like me is hard pressed to resist. After all, bread pudding is a tradition in these parts and who am I to break tradition? But there’s a new spin on the ubiquitous dessert that’s making the rounds in local restaurant circles, and it’s a tasty little spin at that: Meche’s Donut bread pudding.
Every town has its favorite donut shop, and here in Lafayette, it’s the folks at Meche’s that have the definitive artisan-made donut that has hooked folks’ palates for going on three decades. Locals are obsessive about their Meche’s, and judging by the lines out front on any morning of the week, I’d say the passion has crossed over to addiction. Krispy Kreme tried to make inroads in the market a few years back but gave up and closed shop. Dunkin Donuts did their research and decided not even to give it a go against this local heavyweight. It’s just that good.
So what could be better? How about a steaming dish of custardy bread pudding made from those glazed beauties, and drenched with a shot of warm bourbon cream sauce? Oh yeah, we’re talking diet-destroying, highly addictive, nap-inducing, sugar buzz dessert here.
Now, just the thought of turning light-and-airy donuts into a pudding dessert might leave you glazed and confused, but rest assured this has been done before with delicious outcomes. Even the folks out at Hawk’s–one of my favorite crawfish boiling rooms—has a tasty version of the Meche’s Donut bread pudding on the menu. And Chef Christopher Thames formerly of the Grand Coteau Bistro had a rendition that was the coup de grâce of any dinner there. Not to be outdone, I decided to drop by and pick up a dozen glazed to bring home to make my version. So, after consuming a few of those bad boys on the ride home (who can resist?), I discovered I only needed six donuts for my recipe. Lucky me.
There are a few secrets to my recipe that took some trial and error. First, since the donuts are sugar glazed, you don’t need to add extra sugar to the custard. Just a dose of molasses for depth of sweetness, cinnamon, and nutmeg to amp up the flavor, vanilla to round out the edges, and eggs for richness. All combined with half and half, and you have a whole lot of goodness going on here.
Next, to soak up the custard like a sponge, you must use day-old donuts or simply leave them out on the counter to dry out. With an overnight bath in the custard, these donuts become infused with flavor. Baked in individual mini springform pans, these puddings turn out golden brown on top with a moist center. And the icing on this cake (uh, pudding) is the shot of bourbon cream that sends it to another level altogether.
Grab a box of donuts and give this recipe a try.
- 1½ cups heavy cream
- 2 egg yolks
- 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
- 2 tablespoons bourbon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 6 glazed donuts
- 6 eggs
- 2 cups half and half
- 3 tablespoons ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon ground nutmeg
- 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 3 tablespoons dark sugarcane molasses
- Sprig of mint
- In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, add the heavy cream and bring to a simmer. Lower the heat to maintain a simmer.
- In a metal mixing bowl, add the egg yolks, cinnamon, bourbon, vanilla, and sugar. Whisk until thoroughly combined.
- Slowly add a bit of the hot cream to the egg yolk mixture while whisking. Once the yolks have tempered by the hot cream, add the entire mixture to the saucepan with the remaining cream. Gently simmer the mixture until it thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon, about 5 minutes. Keep warm for serving.
- Preheat the oven to 350ºF.
- Break the donuts into bite-size pieces and place on the counter for at least 6 hours or overnight to dry out.
- In a large mixing bowl, whisk the eggs with the half and half. Add the cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, salt, and molasses, and whisk to combine. Add the dried donut pieces to the mixture and submerge to soak up the liquid. Using your clean hands, squeeze the donut pieces like a sponge to soak up the liquid. Place in the refrigerator overnight for best results.
- In 4 individual mini springform pans (or a large ovenproof dish) spray with non-stick spray. Pour the mixture to fill the pans and shake to release any air bubbles. Place the pans on a foil-lined baking tray and place onto the center rack of the preheated oven. Bake until the top is browned and a toothpick comes out clean, 30 to 40 minutes.
- Pop out the bottom of the springform pans and move the puddings to individual dessert plates. Pool a bit of sauce on the bottom of the plate and serve the bourbon cream sauce on the side. Garnish with a mint sprig.
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