Your attempt at recreating Maw Maw’s perfect pecan pie by memory has turned into a sweet mess — but the filling seems salvageable. Leave it to pastry chef Santosh Tiptur of Co Co. Sala in Washington, D.C., to offer up a beautiful solution.
Pecan Bread Pudding with Maple and Cinnamon Creme Anglaise
12 slices of white wheat bread, cubed
¼ c. butter, melted
1½ c. milk
1 c. light cream
1 tbsp. vanilla extract
½ tsp. cinnamon powder
¼ c. sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ c. maple syrup
1 c. (or as needed) pecan pie filling
Toasted candied pecans and chocolate chunks (optional)
1. Preheat oven to 350º. On a baking tray, spread bread cubes and sprinkle with melted butter. Bake until lightly toasted, about 4 minutes. (Don’t fully toast bread, or it will not soak up the creme anglaise.) Set aside.
2. Heat milk in a small saucepan.
3. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, cream, vanilla extract, cinnamon powder, sugar, salt, and maple syrup. Slowly whisk hot milk into mixture.
4. Place mixture in a heavy-bottom saucepan and cook over medium heat, stirring constantly until temperature reaches 183°.
5. Remove from heat immediately and strain through a fine strainer. Stop the cooking process by placing the dish over an ice bath. Set aside.
6. Arrange a layer of toasted bread cubes on the bottom of an 8-by-8-inch baking dish or individual ramekins, and roughly spread pecan filling on top. Pour about half of the hot creme anglaise over the filling. Add another layer of toasted bread cubes and soak with the remaining creme anglaise.
7. Let sit for 10 minutes. Using a flat spoon or a spatula, press the bread cubes into the liquid, making sure the bread is well soaked.
8. Bake in a preheated oven at 350° over a water bath for 25-30 minutes. Cover with aluminum foil and bake an additional 10-15 minutes.
9. Serve warm with whipped cream or vanilla ice cream and sprinkle with toasted candied pecans and fine-quality chocolate chunks.
Co Co. Sala, 929 F Street Northwest, between Ninth and Tenth Streets (202-347-4265 or cocosala.com).
Photo: Courtesy of Co Co. Sala