I took inspiration for this recipe from Nigella Lawson’s Caramel Croissant Pudding, and if you have never tried her recipe I highly recommend you do, the buttery caramel flavor base against the crispy croissants surround by smooth pudding is absolutely amazing.
For my version, I wanted to add the freshness of fruit, the depth of vanilla and warmth of cinnamon and nutmeg. This recipe substantially feeds twelve with ease and can be altered easily to serve as many as needed. Variations on the fruit used can make this a seasonal breakfast dish recipe; I like using coconut milk and adding pineapple or mango or using plums and cherries for a stone fruit version. My preference to use frozen fruit is simply that it is usually packed at its peak flavor whereas fresh isn’t as reliable however, if you have peak fresh fruit available to use then by all means use it.
My thoughts on bread pudding; soak times can vary depending on the type of bread you are using, as well as the age. Fresher bread usually needs more soaking time unlike day old which isn’t as dry. When using day old croissants, you can soak them less as they take on the custard just like a dry sponge takes on water, and while you want the classic smooth texture of bread pudding when making this dish, a crispy top is also important. Another element I feel is a must is vanilla sugar, which I use for topping just before baking. When using vanilla pods, I always take advantage of their remnant pungent flavor by adding them my already existing container of vanilla sugar. If you don’t have fresh vanilla pods you can simply mix together sugar with vanilla bean paste (a pantry necessity) and allow it to sit overnight before using. The base of the custard can be altered as you prefer by cutting the cream with milk or by using only milk but, I recommend the lowest you go is 2%, using 1% or skim just doesn’t provide the same silky rich texture custards naturally offer.
12 day old croissants
8 eggs, cracked and lightly whisked
3 cups heavy cream, room temperature
3 cups whole milk, room temperature
2 ½ cups sugar
1 cups water
1 16 oz pkg frozen sliced peaches
half of a package of raspberries
half of a package of raspberries
1 tsp vanilla bean paste (or 2 tsp vanilla extract)
1 tsp cinnamon
½ tsp nutmeg
pinch of salt
vanilla sugar to top
In a medium sauce pan, dissolve sugar into water and bring to a simmer allowing to caramelize until deep brown in color, swirling the pan every few seconds to keep the liquid moving. [Side note: Caramel can overcook and burn very quickly so it is important to keep an eye on it once the mixture begins to simmer.] Once the desired color, remove from heat and carefully whisk in the heavy cream, then the whole milk. Once incorporated, mix in the cinnamon and nutmeg, then slowly whisk in the eggs. By now, the mixture should be cool enough that the eggs shouldn't scramble.
Lay out the croissants (whole or torn) and peach slices evenly across the bottom of a large casserole, and then slowly cover with the custard pressing down to ensure they are evenly coated. Allow the croissants to soak anywhere from 30 minutes to an hour; once soaked, sprinkle the top evenly with vanilla sugar then bake in a 350-degree oven until bubbling and golden, about an hour. Add raspberries 30 minutes into cooking. Allow to rest 20 minutes before serving as this will give time for the custard to set.