Elvis and I were born on the same day. Perhaps this connection explains my unyielding, everlasting, over–the–top love for all things banana and peanut butter? At a young age, I listened to our Graceland tour guide explain that the King used to love banana, peanut butter, and bacon sandwiches. Instead of being repulsed, I was downright inspired! Here's an easy breakfast bread pudding bursting with salty sweetness, just perfect for a lazy morning. I think Elvis would have approved (no bacon required).
It's no secret that bananas and peanut butter were meant to be together, but never before have I tasted a sinful breakfast bread pudding such as this. I was originally thinking of French toast with bananas and peanut butter tucked into the center, but thought to tinker with the same elements in a different form. With experimentation in the kitchen comes a lot of failure. But every once in a while a spectacular alchemy occurs and a recipe turns out even better than the twinkly little idea. This was one of those instances.
This pudding could easily be one of my favorite breakfast dishes of all time. It's perfect for a crowd because you can make it ahead. It tickles the taste buds with richness from the peanut butter and half and half while still staying naturally sweet thanks to the overly ripe bananas. The pudding has a great, slightly crusty top and gives way to a harmoniously melded interior. It's the type of dish you cannot keep your spoon out of and that will light up the childhood flavor senses. Just give into it. You won't be sorry. I'm hungry just thinking about it and may have to whip up another batch to have tomorrow morning!
Banana Peanut Butter Bread Pudding
4 slices sandwich bread (I used a toasted oat version I like)
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/3 cup half and half
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup honey roasted peanut butter (I love the 'grind yourself' type at Whole Foods)
2 ripe bananas, thinly sliced
butter for greasing your ramekins
Turbinado brown sugar for broiling (optional)
Roughly cut the bread into 1–inch pieces (or you could just tear the bread for a slightly rougher look) and set aside.
In a large, shallow dish, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, half and half and salt. Heat the peanut butter in the microwave until soft—this took my microwave about 30 seconds. Stir the peanut butter into the egg mixture and mix until it's as even as possible (but it's okay to have a few peanut butter blobs).
Gently stir the bread into the egg-peanut butter mixture, tossing until evenly coated and absorbing the mixture. The bread will disintegrate a little, but that's fine. Slice the bananas and stir them gently in. Lightly grease two 6–inch wide ramekins (or use 4 smaller ramekins). Pour the pudding mixture into the ramekins and pat down gently. Cover in saran wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours or overnight to allow flavors to fully meld.
Preheat oven to 400°F. Sprinkle a little Turbinado sugar on tops of puddings. Bake for about 20 minutes, until top is golden and the pudding has puffed slightly. Serve immediately with vanilla yogurt or whip cream.
(Images: Leela Cyd Ross)