Recipe inspiration can come from just about anywhere at any time. A long, lazy Saturday with family and friends by the pool sipping frozen pina coladas and chowing on cheeseburgers doesn’t always spark an idea. But, a stack of leftover hamburger buns, an unopened can of pina colada mix and a half spent bottle of Jamaican rum sitting next to a blender is a combination that can lead to genius. Yes, Coconut Bread Pudding is just that good (and easy). But, before I go on, let me give you some background.
I am a bread pudding junkie. While I’m not a big dessert eater and I’m not especially proficient in the baking arts, I usually never pass up bread pudding. Louisiana has a sweet spot when it comes to bread puddings. Every restaurant does one and all Cajun and Creole cooks have their own special recipe. I would think it’s because of our French bread po’boy heritage and the dilemma of what to do with the leftover stale bread. It has lead to amazing creativity and a sort of bread pudding battlefield among chefs and home cooks.
My two most memorable bread puddings couldn’t be further apart. The elegant five-star Palace Café in New Orleans run by the famous Brennan family has perfected a white chocolate bread pudding and elevated the dish to superstar status. And the little crawfish boiling spot called Hawk’s near Rayne has taken a downscale but equally as decadent, approach. Instead of bread, they use glazed donuts from the local donut wizard Meche’s of Lafayette. I’ve done my version of this Donut Bread Pudding and I concur that it’s a light and airy approach that is brilliantly done. But, don’t even think about counting the calories without a calculator.
Now that I am eyeing my soft hamburger buns, my coconut-infused, rum-soaked idea takes flight. Crack some eggs and fire up the blender, it’s Coconut Bread Pudding time.
My impromptu experimentation uses ingredients already in my pantry or refrigerator. These are products that you might not have, but should be easily found. The buns are very light and readily soak up the custard resulting in far less volume than the baked bread would suggest. In fact, I use eight hamburger buns and this condenses down to six large portions.
With the pudding, I’ve kept the sweetness in check, but the warm booze-infused sauce delivers smooth, sweet roundness. If you’ve ever made a tricky traditional French cream sauce by tempering eggs and cooking the sauce to a thickened reduction, you are going to love this quick, simplified, no-egg version.
Bake these puddings in individual muffin cups and serve up hot and sticky. Your guests will love the moist, cake-like pudding and the moans of approval will be the icing on this, uh, Coconut Bread Pudding.
- 8 hamburger buns
- 6 large eggs
- 2 tablespoons vanilla
- 1 cup pina colada mix
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ¼ cup dark rum
- ½ cup sugarcane molasses
- ½ cup Greek yogurt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 cup shredded coconut
- Spray butter
- 1 cup coconut milk, plus more if needed
- 3 tablespoons dark rum
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon cornstarch
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Preheat the oven to 375ºF.
- In a mixing bowl, break up the buns into small chunks. Move to the side.
- In the container of a blender, crack all of the eggs straight into the blender and add the vanilla, pina colada mix, coconut milk, rum, molasses, and yogurt. Add the dry ingredients; cinnamon, ginger, allspice, nutmeg, cloves, and sugar. Blend on high until combined.
- Pour the mixture over the bread chunks and use a spoon or your clean hands to mash the mixture together. Make sure that all pieces are soaked.
- Coat the inside compartments of a muffin pan (large size) with spray butter. Pour the mixture into each of the muffin cups. Fill them to the top and wipe the excess away from the edges.
- Place the pan in the oven and cook for 25 minutes until the puddings are set. Remove from the oven and keep warm.
- In a saucepan over medium heat, add the coconut milk and bring to a simmer. Add the rum, sugar, cornstarch, and butter and whisk until it is combined. With a wire whisk, begin stirring while increasing the heat to high and the sauce thickens. Once it comes to a boil, turn off the heat and continue to whisk until it comes to the desired thickness. If it is too thick, add a bit more coconut milk. Remove from the stove and keep warm.
- For serving, plate the bread pudding and with a sharp knife cut an X in the center of each. Spoon the hot sauce into the middle and let it run out onto the plate. Garnish with a sprig of mint and serve while hot.
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