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About 20 years ago, a local station had a mid-morning news program.  Part of that program was a cooking segment once a week.  It was sponsored by a local hospital and featured healthier versions of recipes.  That’s where I found this recipe.  It was the first time I had ever seen bread pudding that sounded good.  It not a recipe I had tried before.

The recipe is so simple and delicious but I am an adventurous cook.  So over the years, I looked for other bread pudding recipes.  Not one has tempted me because of the complexity of the ingredients.  Many of them used something like a dozen eggs.  Back when I ate eggs that didn’t sound appealing.

This is a great recipe for being diet friendly.  It’s not sugar free but has far less than any other bread pudding I have seen.  It doesn’t really taste sweet.  It’s substitution friendly.  I made the version above using egg replacer powder (with water).  It came out perfect.  We’ve made versions using non-dairy milks.  This does use milk and evaporated milk but I just subbed with soy milk (I think) for all of it and it came out great.  You can sub the bread for gluten free bread.  I’ve even made this with left over quick breads – not my favorite but it worked.

This does have you soaking raisins in irish whiskey (that’s what caught my attention).  If you don’t want whiskey (but I promise you can’t taste the alcohol), you can always use apple or grape juice.  I have never used raisins – opting for currants, usually but last night I put in blueberries I had dried at home.  It’s so good that I am disappointed I didn’t bring some for lunch.

This time, I skipped the sauce that is usually served with the bread pudding.  I don’t feel like it’s missing anything so you can stop with just the pudding part.  Also, I sliced my bread the night before so it was stale and skipped the butter and toasting part.

Here is the recipe as it came from the show.  I wish I could remember more about which hospital sponsored the recipe so I could properly credit the recipe.  It is so good that I’ve been making it for 20 years.

Irish Bread Pudding With Caramel-Whiskey Sauce
1/4 cup light butter — melted
1 (10 ounce) French bread baguette, cut into 1-inch thick slices
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
1 3/4 cups 1% low-fat milk
1 cup sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
1 (12 ounce) can evaporated skim milk
2 large eggs — lightly beaten
cooking spray
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Caramel-Whiskey Sauce:
1 1/2 cups sugar
2/3 cup water
1/4 cup light butter
2 ounces 1/3-less-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel) — (about 1/2 cup)
1/4 cup Irish whiskey
1/4 cup 1% low-fat milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Brush melted butter on one side of French bread slices, and place bread, butter sides up, on baking sheet. Bake bread at 350 degrees for 10 min. or lightly toasted. Cut bread into 1/2-inch cubes, and set aside.
Combine raisins and whiskey in a small bowl; cover and let stand 10 min. or until soft (do not drain).
Combine 1% milk and next 4 ingredients in a large bowl; stir well with a whisk. Add bread cubes and raisin mixture, pressing gently to moisten; let stand 15 minutes. Spread bread mixture into a 13×9″ baking dish coated with cooking spray. Combine 1 tablespoon sugar and cinnamon; sprinkle over pudding. Bake at 350 degrees for 35 minutes. or until set. Serve warm with Caramel-Whiskey Sauce.

For Sauce: Combine sugar and water in a small heavy saucepan over med-high heat; cook until sugar dissolves, stirring constantly. Cook an additional 15 minutes or until golden (do not stir). Remove from heat. Carefully add butter and cream cheese, stirring constantly with a whisk ( mixture will be hot and bubble vigorously). Cool slightly, and stir in whiskey and milk.

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