This recipe is a three-step process. The pudding base can be made a day in advance as well as the bourbon sauce. Phase One: Bread Pudding¾ cup Caster sugar or baker’s sugar 1 tsp ground cinnamonPinch of freshly grated nutmeg3 medium organic eggs1 Cup heavy cream1 tsp vanilla5 cups New Orleans French Bread, in 1 inch cubes1/3 cup top quality raisins. Currants may be used as well for a smaller raisin if desired. The bread must be light and tender such as some of the French breads made at the super markets. If it is dense bread, it will soak up all the custard and the pudding portion of the recipe will not work. Baker’s sugar is not in many supermarkets but can be found at Ralph’s, not at Vons and Caster sugar at finer supermarkets such as Whole Foods.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease an 8-inch square-baking pan. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Beat the eggs until smooth and then work in the heavy cream. Add the vanilla, then the bread cubes. Allow bread to soak up the custard. Place the raisins in the bottom of the greased pan. Top with the bread/egg mixture. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the pudding has a golden brown color and is firm to the touch. If a toothpick inserted comes out clean, it is done. The mixture of pudding should be nice and moist, not runny or dry. Cool slightly. Turn out on to a cutting board and gently chop. Leave oven on to 350 degrees. Phase two: Meringue 9 Medium egg whites ¾ cup baker’s sugar ¼ tsp cream of tartar
Butter six 6oz ramekins or use a large soufflé dish and dust with extra sugar. Beat on low the egg whites and cream of tartar until frothy. Turn up to high and whip until soft peaks form. Slowly add the sugar and beat until stiff and glossy. The egg whites should be completely free of yolk and they will whip better if the chill is off of them. To test them, use a clean spoon; if the whites stand up stiff similar to shaving cream, when you pull the spoon out the meringue is ready. Do not over whip, or the whites will break down and the soufflé will not work.
In another large bowl, take half of the bread pudding and fold into it ¼ of the meringue. Add a portion of this base to each of the ramekins.
Place the remaining bread pudding in the bowl and carefully fold in the rest of the meringue. Spoon to dishes and top off or mound the soufflés to about 1 and ½ inches above rims. Smooth and shape tops with spoon into a dome over the ramekin rim. Bake immediately for approximately 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and using a spoon, poke a hole in the top of each soufflé and pour the room temperature bourbon sauce inside the soufflés. Serve immediately.
Use about half of the sauce for this and serve the remaining on the side or dress the plates before un-molding.
Phase 3: Bourbon Sauce 1 Cup heavy cream ½ Tbsp cornstarch 1 Tbsp water 3 Tbsp caster or baker’s sugar 1/4 cup excellent bourbon
Place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat and bring to a boil. Whisk cornstarch and water together in a small dish and add to the cream while whisking. Bring to a boil while whisking and let simmer for a few seconds, taking care not to burn the mixture on the bottom. Remove from heat.Stir in the sugar and bourbon. Taste to make sure the sauce is sufficiently sweet to taste and with a good bourbon flavor and has a nice thick consistency. Cool to room temperature.