It can be hazardous - especially around sharp objects and open flames.
It's a lot of work but you know, I wouldn't have it any other way. Part of the joy of family holidays is all the preparation: the menu planning; the marketing; the baking and cooking; getting the dinner linens out; washed and ironed. Even vacuuming and dusting the house feels less of a burden.
And, I LOVE the way the house smells. Cinnamon. Ginger. Nutmeg. Cloves.
It smells like Love. You know?
Every year, I delight in making the "old family favorites" and then finding something new that may become a favorite of my family. Two years ago, I found the recipe for Vegetarian Sweet Potato Stuffing from Charlie Trotter's Restaurant in Chicago. It's now a staple on our table - and not just for our vegetarian daughter.
I think I've found this year's entry. It's Caramel Croissant Pudding.
I made a batch of it earlier today. Can I just say, "OMG"? I almost ate the whole thing at one go, even before it properly cooled. It's going to be amazing, served warm with a scoop of vanilla ice cream - because, well, it's a holiday.
I know, I know. There were no croissants at the first Thanksgiving. But, I'm sure there was a kind of bread pudding. And, if there were croissants, the 'bread' would have been croissants. Trust me on this.
Okay, okay. So you want the recipe, right? You got it. Here it is:
The recipe says "serves two" but don't count on that.
Caramel Croissant PuddingIngredients:
2 stale croissants
1/2 cup sugar
2 T water
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup whole milk
2 T bourbon (or, some vanilla extract)
2 large eggs, beaten.
1. Heat the oven to 350.Yes, I bake like this every year. Just ask my family. This year is a bit different, however. This year I'm on Sabbatical, so there's no trying to write a sermon and dashing out to make pastoral calls, doing emergency crisis intervention with a family in need who "just happens to drop by the office" at 3 PM Thanksgiving Eve - all the while trying to keep the office and staff running while attempting to get everything done.
2. Tear croissants into pieces and place them into a small gratin dish that holds about two cups
3. Combine sugar and water in a saucepan and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before placing the saucepan on a burner over medium to high heat.
4. Caramelize the mixture by letting it boil for 3 - 5 minutes or until it turns a deep amber color. (If you haven't caramelized sugar before, know that it will foam and then become hard and lumpy. Don't panic. It will then melt and, as you break up the clumps, begin to liquefy before it begins to turn brown.)
5. Reduce the heat to low, add the cream and, while whisking, add the milk and bourbon. Any solid toffee that forms in the pan will dissolve easily if you keep whisking over low heat. Take the pan off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs until it forms a custard. (It will be a bit thin, which is okay.)
6. Pour the custard over the croissants, and - if the croissants are extremely stale (never in my house) - let the pudding stand for 10 minutes to steep.
7. Bake for 20 minutes. Serve.
Note: I think I might experiment by adding some walnuts next time. I can also report that it tastes yummy cold and served with a dollop of whipped cream.
This year, the focus is on the family, to coin a phrase. The stress level is much, much lower, which simply intensifies the joy of preparation.
I am so deeply grateful for this time, for my friends and family, for my health, for our wonderful, wee cozy cottage on the Bay, and for furry, four-legged critters who love unconditionally.
Oops! It's back to the market for me. I make lists and lists of things, but there always seems to be one or two more things I've forgotten - or thought I had enough of on the pantry shelf.
Off I go, then.
It's all good. It's all fun. I can't wait for Thursday!