A delightfully decadent bread pudding recipe to celebrate the dawn of pumpkin season, plus other winter squash recipe ideas and how to achieve the perfect crème brûlée sear at home

by Chef Peter Botros

OLD FLAME
There’s something almost therapeutic about cracking the top of crème brûlée, the warm crystallized sugar revealing the cool custard below. It’s a truly luxurious dessert and a mainstay on the menus of high-end French bistros and new American eateries. But while the charred top of the rich dessert might seem complex, it’s simple to whip up at home you just need the right tool. With a kitchen torch, you can achieve the “brûlée” (translation: burnt in French) in only a handful of seconds by rotating the flame as you slowly sear the top of the vanilla custard. The gadget can also be used to sear steaks, melt cheese, and toast breadcrumbs. There are several stellar options on Amazon, including this handsome torch from Luxury Chefs.

 

 

HAPPY HARVEST
Ever versatile, the squash is famed for its dense, silky texture and mild, nutty flavor. There are dozens of varieties of the herbaceous vegetable, and they are generally divided into two categories: summer and winter. As we move into fall, winter squash will become more prevalent. They include:

VJ SPREAD

Butternut: one of the most versatile of all squashes, the butternut has a sweet nutty taste and can be used in a variety of dishes, from soups and Brussels sprouts to risotto and curry. It’s also delicious roasted on its own with olive oil and sea salt.

• Kabocha: a starchy Japanese squash with a sweet potato-like flavor.
• Hubbard: a meaty squash with a rich pumpkin flavor, perfect for holiday pies.
• Acorn: small hard-shelled squash, great for baking and roasting, especially with a kiss of pure maple syrup.
• Pumpkin: a beloved fall staple. It can be used in both sweet and savory dishes, from pumpkin pies to pumpkin breakfast sausage.
• Spaghetti squash: an excellent source of fiber and vitamin B. It gets its named from its spaghetti-like fibers once cooked, and can be swapped out for traditional pasta noodles.

SPICE OF LIFE
This decadent dessert features fall’s favorite flavor, pumpkin, for a post-dinner delicacy with zing.

PUMPKIN WHITE CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING WITH CARAMELIZED TURBINADO SUGAR
Ingredients:
1 tbsp Vanilla Bean
Puree
8 Eggs (beaten)
1 Loaf of Brioche
(crust removed)
½ Cup Melted
Butter (unsalted)
1 Cup White
Chocolate Chips
2 tbsp Kosher Salt
2 Cups Milk
2 Cups Heavy
Cream
½ Cup Granulated Sugar
½ Cup Turbinado Sugar
1 ½ Cups Canned
Pumpkin Puree
2 tbsp Vanilla Bean
Paste

Directions: Cut brioche into 1 – 1 ½ inch. Dice and set aside. Combine milk, heavy cream, granulated sugar, butter, salt, eggs, and vanilla bean paste. Pour mixture over the brioche and let soak for two minutes. Add white chocolate and pumpkin, mix by hand. Let sit for ten minutes. Bake in a glass pan using a water bath at 325 degrees for 45 minutes to one hour. Sprinkle turbinado sugar on top and torch until sugar is caramelized.