Celebrate St. Patrick’s Day With Bread Pudding and Whiskey Sauce

Top of the mornin’ to you! I hope you’re all decked out in your finest green sweatshirts and leprechaun hats! As you know, St. Patrick’s Day is all about drinking, and then eating, and then drinking some more, and then throwing up. I am here to help you with two of those three pursuits! (You’re on your own with the vomiting.) We’re going to start with the eating part, since, as every good Irishman knows, it’s best to put something in your stomach first to soak up all the green beer. My advice on drinking will be posted a little bit later today.

Now, of course there are lots of delicious savory options — corned beef and cabbage, Irish soda bread, etc. But because I love any excuse to consume dessert, I’m going to focus on St. Patrick’s Day sweets. These fall into two categories, generally: regular baked goods that are dyed green and plain-colored items that feature whiskey and/or Bailey’s. I’m opting for the whiskey/Bailey’s end of the spectrum because a) booze = yum (plus you can take sips while you work), and b) I happen to have both Bailey’s and whiskey in my apartment right now, and I don’t have any green food coloring.

If you are into the green thing, however, you have many choices. For instance, you could make some Green Velvet Cake (use this recipe, except skip the berries and substitute green food coloring for red). These Irish Car Bomb-themed cupcakes are also so decadent and good — though a bit more labor intensive because of the filling. If you’re short on time, you could follow the basic idea for these cupcakes, but make the frosting green and do a shamrock stencil instead. Or, if you’re not into cake, cut your favorite sugar cookies into shamrock shapes and use green icing. Basically, the possibilities are endless when it comes to putting green food coloring into things.

Today, though, I am going to show you how to whip up some tasty bread pudding with whiskey or Bailey’s sauce. Mmmmmmmmm. Bread pudding is so very easy to make (even easier than making French toast); so you can probably do it even after you’ve had a few drinks. Plus, it’s pretty good for breakfast, so you can use the leftovers to sop up all the alcohol that’s still in your stomach tomorrow morning. Let’s get started, shall we?

Here’s what you’ll need:

For the pudding:

-8 eggs

-2 c. sugar

-3 c. whole milk

-2 c. heavy cream
[Dairy note: This recipe is pretty forgiving, so if you have a little less cream, just make up for it with milk. Or vice versa. You can also use some 2% milk in place of the whole. As long as you have 5 cups total of liquid you should be OK. Just please — for the love of God — do not use skim milk. Blech.]

-2 tsp. vanilla extract

-1 tsp. cinnamon

-Pinch of salt

-One loaf of bread (I prefer challah for it’s eggy, soft goodness, but you can really use any kind of rustic/French loaf. Just don’t use sandwich bread or anything too healthy/grainy.)

-Optional: 1 c. golden raisins (Add these if you’re the kind of person who likes raisins in their bread pudding. I find raisins to be creepy, so I left them out.)

For the sauce:

-3 c. heavy cream

-1 tbsp. cornstarch

-4 tbsp. water

-2/3 c. sugar

-2/3 c. Whiskey/bourbon (whatever you have on hand) or Bailey’s (or any generic version of Irish Cream)

Here’s what to do:

-Find a 9×13 casserole dish (glass is best, but ceramic works too) and butter it.

-Cut up the loaf of bread into roughly 1-inch cubes (or tear it up, if you have extra aggression you need to get out). Don’t worry about making the cubes perfect. You basically just want to break up the bread so there’s more surface area to soak in the liquid. Also, it doesn’t really matter how they look because once you bake it, it all kind of melts together anyway. So, be as sloppy as you like!

-Spread the bread cubes out evenly in the buttered pan.

-In a large bowl, whisk the eggs until they’re broken up. Whisk in the sugar until blended. Then add the milk, cream, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt, and whisk until it’s all mixed thoroughly. (The cinnamon will probably be a little lumpy, but don’t worry about it.)

Here’s what you should have at this point:

-Pour the mixture over the bread cubes in the pan. Try to distribute it as evenly as you can over the cubes. Then go in with your (clean!) hands and mush the cubes down and around so that they all start sopping up the liquid and are submerged. (If you’re using raisins, this is the time to mix them in with the bread.)

-Cover the pan with plastic wrap, and stick it in the fridge for 1.5 or 2 hours.

Here’s what the pudding will look like after soaking:

-Make the sauce while the pudding is chilling:

  • Pour the cream into a small saucepan and bring it to a boil over med-high heat, stirring often.
  • While it’s coming to a boil, whisk the cornstarch and water together in a small bowl until it’s smooth. Once the cream is boiling, pour the cornstarch mix into the cream, stirring constantly.
  • Bring the whole thing up to a boil again, then lower the heat, and stir it while it simmers for just a tiny little while (not longer than one minute — and be careful not to burn it!).
  • Take the pan off the heat, and stir in the sugar and whatever alcohol you’re using. Then let it cool until it’s at room temperature.
  • Don’t forget to take a few sips of the whiskey or Bailey’s while you work!

-Once the pudding is done chilling, heat the oven to 350 degrees. Bake the pudding for an hour, and then start watching it closely. Take it out when it’s puffy and turning golden brown, it took mine about 1 hour and 5 minutes, but it will depend on your oven.

Here’s what the coloring should resemble:

-Let it cool a bit, and then slice it up and serve it with plenty of sauce poured over it.

Here’s the finished product! (Bailey’s sauce is on the left, whiskey sauce on the right — not that they look that much different…)

Once you’re done eating, I encourage you all to go get your Irish Jig on.

Erin go Bragh!