Here's a fall flavored weekend dessert that can be assembled ahead of time and baked just before serving. It's great for company as a finale to a homey fall meal. The earthy flavor of the sweet potatoes really comes through, pairing well with the spices and the caramely, nutty sauce. I made a batch and gave some to two sets of friends who heated it up in the microwave later. Everyone raved.
Sweet Potato Bread Pudding with Caramel Pecan Sauce
For the Pudding:
2 garnet sweet potatoes (about 1 1/2 pounds)
2 teaspoons butter
1-1 pound loaf day old Challah bread, cut into cubes (about 6 cups)
6 eggs, lightly beaten
1 cup sugar
1/2 cup maple syrup
1 tablespoon molasses
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Pinch of allspice
Pinch of salt
2 cups heavy cream
2 cups milk
For the Sauce:
4 tablespoons butter
½ cup pecan halves
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup cream
Peel and cut the sweet potatoes into 3-inch chunks. Steam until tender (about 15 minutes). Set aside to cool.
While the potatoes steam, generously butter a 13 x 9 inch baking dish and place the bread cubes in the dish. Whisk together the eggs, sugar, maple syrup, molasses, vanilla, spices, salt, milk and heavy cream.
Once the sweet potatoes are cool, mash them well (you can put them through a food mill for a smoother texture, but I didn't). Add them to the egg mixture and blend thoroughly. Pour the egg mixture over the bread and press down on the bread with the back of a wooden spoon to ensure all the bread cubes are soaked in the custard mixture. Let sit for about 20 minutes while you preheat the oven to 350° F (you may let it sit up to 4 hours, refrigerated if needed).
Place the bread pudding in the oven and bake for about 45 minutes to 1 hour until browned and the custard is set, rotating the pan halfway through for even browning.
While the bread pudding bakes, make the sauce:
Melt the butter and add the pecans. Cook the pecans in the butter, stirring, until fragrant (about 3-4 minutes). Add the brown sugar and stir until the sugar melts. Add the cream and stir to blend until smooth. Sauce can be made ahead and reheated. Serve warm pudding with heated sauce poured over and whipped cream on the side (if desired).