Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Strawberry Cheesecake Bread Pudding


Hello, my lovelies! I have a few fun things to share today :) First of all, I recently participated in an interview with the wonderful Correen at Food Lovers Website. She asked me all kinds of fun questions which I happily answered. You can go stalk me read the whole interview here! I've also added a button linking to the interview on my sidebar, so you can access it anytime you're feeling super stalkerish. Or lonely. I love you. It's okay. Also, I'm sure you're all dying of anticipation to know who won the highly coveted Tea Week giveaway from Stash Tea! If your name isn't Alicia Keen, it wasn't you :( Sorry. But congrats to Alicia! I hope you love your awesome prize pack!! Happy tea drinking!


Now, onto the recipe du jour! Bread pudding. You know I love it. I write about it monthly. I have big dreams for it. The evolution of bread pudding is a little seed planted in my head, and I'm watching it grow. And boy, can it grow!! So many possibilities! You should see my bread pudding to do list! It will blow your mind :) This month, I decided to take strawberry cheesecake and turn it into bread pudding. I took all the flavors of a cheesecake, the tangy, cream cheesy filling, the graham cracker crust, and the syrupy fruit topping, and waved my magic wand. Poof! Strawberry cheesecake bread pudding!


Obviously, it could never be a spitting image of its inspiration, but especially at room temperature or cool, the bread pudding really mimics that tang and classic flavor of a good cheesecake. Making the graham cracker crust on top instead of on the bottom allows for a great crunchy texture. And of course there are no gelatinous berries from a can here. Just simple macerated strawberries to top or serve with your bread pudding. If you're topping with the berries, make sure you do so at the last minute or else your crust will get soggy.


To make it seem even more cheesecake-like, I made this in a round cake pan lined with parchment paper on the bottom and sides. It was super easy to lift from the pan and slice into wedges, just like a real cheesecake! A beautiful presentation along with fresh and delicious flavors makes this a great bread pudding option for any special occasion! Father's Day is coming up this weekend, and I'm sure any dad would love this dessert! I know mine did :)


I am officially presenting Strawberry Cheesecake Bread Pudding as the Bread Pudding of the Month for June. 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 June 29th. I will then post a round-up of all the bread puddings from this month. Also, starting next month I will be including the link-up option in the roundup post, so you can start linking up your bread puddings from the very beginning of the month, instead of waiting for me to get my butt into gear and post my submission ;-)


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.

I can't wait to see what you all come up with!





Strawberry Cheesecake Bread Pudding
Serves 6 to 8

1 lb strawberries, hulled and sliced
1/3 cup plus 2 T. sugar
6 cups stale* 1/2-inch bread cubes (such as Italian, challah, or brioche)
8 oz cream cheese (or Neufchatel cheese), at room temperature
1 cup milk
1 T. sour cream
1 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 tsp. pure vanilla extract
2 eggs
4 graham crackers
2 T. unsalted butter, melted

Place the oven rack in the center of the oven, and preheat to 350 degrees F. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with parchment paper, allowing the parchment paper to line the sides and hang over the edges as necessary. Trim the excess parchment to allow about 1-inch overhang on either side. Fill the pan with the stale/dry bread cubes. When you add the bread, it will weigh down the parchment. The overhang will allow you to easily remove the bread pudding from the pan for slicing.

In a mixing bowl, toss together the sliced strawberries and 2 tablespoons sugar. Allow the strawberries to macerate in the refrigerator for about an hour or longer until needed.

To a blender, add the cream cheese, milk, remaining 1/3 cup sugar, sour cream, lemon juice, and vanilla extract. Puree until smooth. Add the eggs and blend again. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread cubes, pressing down lightly with your hands or the back of a spoon and making sure that all the bread starts soaking in the custard. Soak for 15 minutes.

Meanwhile, put the graham crackers in a plastic bag and smash them up by hand until you have a crumbly texture with a mixture of fine crumbs and some larger pea-sized chunks. Alternatively, pulse them in a food processor a few times to achieve the same texture (if you want to wash extra dishes *cough cough*). Mix the crushed graham crackers with the melted butter and sprinkle evenly over the top of the bread pudding.

Bake until the filling is set and the top is lightly browned, crusted, and puffed, about 30 to 35 minutes.

Allow the bread pudding to cool in the pan for about 10 minutes and then carefully remove the bread pudding from the pan using the parchment paper overhang, and place onto a cutting board. Allow the bread pudding to cool to room temperature (it will taste more like cheesecake if it isn't warm). Use a serrated knife to cut the bread pudding into wedges (like a cake), and then serve with the macerated strawberries.

*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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