Friday, March 4, 2011

Beet Bread Pudding with Horseradish-Cream Cheese Ice Cream

I know what you're thinking. Beet bread pudding? Horseradish ice cream? Victoria's gone mental. Oh, contraire! If you don't like beets, I completely understand if this recipe turns you off, but if you love beets (as I do), this dessert concept is truly a revelation. I can't take full credit. My college friend and fellow blogger Jill came up with this creation, and it won third place at a Food Experiment in Brooklyn. I've adapted it slightly, and can honestly say from my very first bite I fell in love, and hard. The bread pudding itself is not only a vibrant red, but showcases the natural sweetness of the beets very well. It tastes like beets, but in a non-savory way.

The ice cream seems to come from left field, but not only compliments the bread pudding perfectly, but tastes really complex on its own. A mixture of sweet, tart, and tangy, the horseradish flavor is quite strong, but not spicy at all, a very balanced and deep flavor profile. And the walnuts and orange zest on top elevate this dish to another plane. I really hope you will give this recipe a shot. I was a bit skeptical at first (especially about the ice cream), but I absolutely love the finished product! I would make this again in a heartbeat, especially to impress guests who will likely be confused, and a bit uncertain before taking a bite, and then beg for the recipe!

I am officially presenting this sweet Beet Bread Pudding as the Bread Pudding of the Month for March. I invite you all to link up your bread pudding recipes from throughout the month, savory or sweet, there are no restrictions on originality! Please make your submissions before March 31st. I will post a round-up in early April of all the bread puddings from this month.

In order to participate, you must do the following...
  1. Use the linky form below the recipe to link up to the URL of your post, not the URL of your main blog. When it asks for "Name," type in the name of your recipe, not your name.
  2. Either in your post or in the sidebar of your blog, link back to the Bread Pudding of the Month page or share my badge using the HTML below. If you plan on regularly participating, it might be easier to just post it in your sidebar :)
If you do not link back to Mission: Food OR share my badge in your post / sidebar, I will not include you in the round-up so please make sure you not only link up below, but link back here from your blog. Simply copy and paste the HTML in the text box below, it's that simple.

Thanks so much for joining in the fun, and I can't wait to see what you all come up with!

Beet Bread Pudding with Horseradish-Cream Cheese Ice Cream
Serves 6
(Adapted from Burning Down the House)

Horseradish-Cream Cheese Ice Cream:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup + 1 T. sugar
2 T. prepared horseradish
1 T. fresh lemon juice
Pinch kosher salt
1/4 cup heavy cream

Beet Bread Pudding:
Unsalted butter, for baking dish
5 to 6 cups stale* 1/2-inch bread cubes (such as Italian, challah, or brioche)
8 oz red beets (2 to 3 medium beets), trimmed, but not peeled
1/4 cup fresh orange juice
2 eggs
1/4 cup sugar
1 cup milk
1/2 tsp. grated nutmeg
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract

Roughly chopped toasted walnuts
Grated orange zest

Start by making the ice cream. Add the cream cheese, milk, sugar, horseradish, lemon juice, and salt to a blender and puree until smooth. Pour into a pitcher or measuring cup with a spout (for easy pouring into the ice cream machine) and mix in the heavy cream. Chill in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes until cold. Freeze ice cream according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer directions. Transfer ice cream to a plastic pint-sized container and freeze until firm. If it gets too hard, you may need to leave it out for a few minutes before scooping (this is common with homemade ice creams).

Place the oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 425 degrees F. Wrap each beet in aluminum foil and place on a small sheet pan. Roast in the oven for 40 to 50 minutes, or until tender (a fork should easily pierce through the beets). If beets vary in size, remove smaller beets from the oven as they become tender, and allow larger beets to roast longer until they are done. Remove foil and allow beets to cool slightly. Use a paper towel to rub off the beet skins. Roughly chop the peeled, roasted beets (you should have about 1 heaping cup of chopped beets).

Lower the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. Butter an 8 by 8-inch (2 quart) baking dish and arrange the stale bread cubes in the dish.

Add the chopped beets and orange juice to a blender and puree. In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs and sugar, then whisk in the milk, nutmeg, vanilla, and beet puree. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes in the baking dish, pressing down with the back of a spoon or your hands and making sure that all the bread gets submerged and starts soaking in the custard.

Soak for 15 minutes and then put the baking dish in the oven. Bake until the filling is set and the top is crusted, about 30 to 35 minutes. Serve warm or room temperature, topped with a scoop of horseradish-cream cheese ice cream, chopped walnuts, and fresh orange zest.

*If your bread isn't very stale, cut it into cubes and allow the bread cubes to dry out at room temperature all day or overnight. Alternatively, lightly toast them on a sheet pan in a 350 degree F oven until dry, about 10 to 15 minutes.


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