1/2 pound french bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (italian, egg or sourdough bread could also be used) about 10 cups
1/2 cup coarsely chopped pecans
2 tablespoons butter or margarine, melted
1 quart (4 cups) half-and-half, or milk
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 tablespoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons ground nutmeg
1/2 cup store-bought caramel topping
Whipped cream, or non-dairy whipped topping (optional)
1. Spray a microwave safe 2-quart square casserole dish with nonstick cooking spray. Place bread cubes in casserole; sprinkle in pecans, then pour melted butter over all. Toss lightly.
2. Preheat oven to 425°F (220 C). Whisk together half and half, eggs, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg. Pour evenly over bread cubes and let stand 5 minutes. Microwave on Medium (50% power) 10-12 minutes, until mixture is just beginning to set.
3. Place in preheated oven 12-15 minutes until pudding is puffed and golden brown. Remove from oven to wire rack; let stand 15 minutes to cool slightly. Soften caramel topping in microwave to a pourable consistency; drizzle over warm bread pudding. To serve, cut into squares or spoon into dessert dishes. Serve, if desired, with whipped cream or thawed non-dairy whipped topping.
Makes 8 servings.
Date: November 22, 2004