1/2 cup water
5 tablespoons butter
1. Combine the sugar and water in a medium, heavy-bottom pot over medium-high heat. After the sugar melts, do not stir the mixture in the pan as this will cause the sugar to become lumpy and crystalize. Continue to cook the sugar until it browns to a rich caramel color, swirling the pot gently so the sugar cooks evenly.
2. While the sugar is cooking, heat the cream and butter in a small saucepan until the butter melts and the cream scalds. Remove from heat.
3. When the sugar is caramelized, remove from heat. Gently and slowly whisk the hot cream into the caramel carefully, as the cream will steam when it is poured into the hot sugar. Cool the caramel sauce, then cover and refrigerate the sauce until needed. This makes 1 pint caramel sauce, possibly more than is needed for the remainder of the recipe; the sauce will keep, refrigerated, for up to 2 weeks. Gently reheat on the stove before using.
Bread pudding and assembly
6 egg yolks
1 quart heavy cream
3/4 cups sugar
1 1/2 tablespoons brandy
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
1/2 vanilla bean, scraped
1 pound brioche bread, cut into 1-inch cubes and dried
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks, cream, sugar, brandy, vanilla extract and the seeds scraped from the bean to form a custard base. Add the bread cubes and toss to combine. Set the mixture aside until the bread cubes are soaked with the custard base, about 30 minutes, tossing every 10 minutes.
3. Spoon the mixture into a greased 13-by-9-inch baking dish. Place the dish in a larger roasting pan, and fill the pan with hot water until it comes up the baking dish halfway. Wrap the top of the baking dish with foil and place the roasting pan in the oven.
4. Bake the bread pudding until the custard is set, about 45 minutes.
5. Remove the roasting pan from the oven and carefully remove the baking dish from the pan. Uncover the bread pudding and place the baking dish back in the oven. Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Continue to bake the bread pudding until the top is golden brown, an additional 8 to 10 minutes.
5. Remove the baking dish to a rack to cool slightly. Serve the bread pudding warm topped with crème anglaise and caramel sauce.
Each of 12 servings: 760 calories; 8 grams protein; 56 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 56 grams fat; 34 grams saturated fat; 389 mg cholesterol; 40 grams sugar; 107 mg sodium.