Gayle's Croissant Bread Pudding

Gayle’s Croissant Bread Pudding
We are featuring recipes from Rabun County’s Four “Best Chefs America 2013.”  Rabun County is fortunate to have 4 “Best Chefs America” practicing their skills and helping make Northeast Georgia a culinary destination extraordinaire. This recipe for Croissant Bread Pudding is by Gayle Darugh of Beechwood Inn, Clayton, Georgia.

For this bread pudding we start out by using light buttery croissants – making this pudding exceptionally light, flavorful and moist. The apples and caramel shards amplify the fruity aromas and favors. Though this recipe has several steps, they are worth the final display.  Serves 8 amply.

Croissant Bread Pudding:
6 very fresh egg yolks
½ cup sugar
½ tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
1 supple vanilla bean, split in two and the seeds scraped into the custard
Just a pinch of salt
3 regular size croissants cut into ½ inch cubes.
Place egg yolks and sugar in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment.  Whisk until light yellow and slightly thickened, about two minutes.  Add all other ingredients and mix until combined.  Pour into a large container, add the croissant cubes and mix until evenly coated.  Let stand for at least an hour.
Fifteen minutes prior to baking, set oven to 300 degrees.  Stir the pudding mixture again and turn into an 8 x 8 baking pan.  Place the pan in a larger pan; add hot water to half way up the side of the baking pan.  Bake for about an hour and 15 minutes until lightly browned and just starting to come away from the edge of the pan. Cool on a wire rack.
Apple Chutney:
1 tablespoon of butter
2 tart apples, we prefer Granny Smith, peeled and cut into 1/2 inch dice.
½ cup apple brandy
¼ cup water
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
2 cinnamon sticks
¼ teaspoon lemon juice
Heat the butter over medium-high heat in a heavy sauce pan.  Add the apples and cook until tender and most of the juice has reduced.  Deglaze the pan with the brandy.  Add all other ingredients and simmer for 20 minutes.  Keep warm.
Cream Anglaise:
3 fresh egg yolks
1 cup of heavy (whipping) cream.
1 supple vanilla bean, split and scraped
1/3 cup sugar
¼ teaspoon grated nutmeg
½ teaspoon grated orange zest
Just a pinch of salt
In a small saucepan scald the cream, vanilla bean and salt. Remove from heat.   In a mixing bowl, cream yolks and sugar until light yellow, about 2 minutes.  Add the scalded cream mixture slowly to temper the yolks.  Stir until combined.  Prepare a double boiler and cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly.  When the mixture reaches 175 degrees or coats the back of a spoon, remove from heat, strain, cover and chill until needed. 
Caramel Shards:
Place a Silpat in a rimmed sheet pan.  Place 1 cup of water and 1 cup of sugar in a small heavy sauce pan.  Place on high heat and bring to a boil.  Watch closely until it becomes a light amber color, and then remove from heat.  Let cool just a few moments. Drizzle the hot caramel onto the mat in long delicate strings, back and forth.  Don’t worry if it crosses and pools in some spots.  Let cool completely.  Break into long free-form shards and reserve.
Whip one cup whipped cream until firm, but not stiff, peaks form.
Place a round of chutney in the center of each plate.  Cut the pudding into 2 x 4 strips.  Place on the chutney and drizzle with cream Anglaise.  Garnish with a dollop of whipped cream and a fresh mint spring and a caramel shard.
Beechwood Inn