If The King were alive, today would have been his 80th birthday and we bet he'd celebrate with a well-earned serving of this Caramel Banana, Peanut Butter, and Chocolate Bread Pudding.
Matt Lewis and and Renato Poliafito, the minds behind the New York cult bakeries Baked, were inspired by Elvis' favorite flavor combo: peanut butter and banana. "Few megastars are so associated with one food item as Elvis is associated with the fried peanut butter and banana sandwich," Lewis writes in the introduction to this big hunk o'love recipe in Baked Occasions: Desserts for Leisure Activities, Holidays, and Informal Celebrations ($23, amazon.com).
"The allure of Elvis is everlasting," Lewis told InStyle. "Even if you aren't a dyed in the wool fan, you can't help but fall into the warm embrace of his smooth vocal stylings and iconic hip shaking." Agreed. To celebrate The King's big day, we can't help falling in love with the ultra-indulgent mash-up of smooth chocolate, rich caramel, and custardy bread pudding. Any way you slice it, this decadent dessert is guaranteed to love you tender.
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup (55 g) firmly packed dark brown sugar
6 very ripe medium bananas, cut into ½ inch (12-mm) slices
5 large egg yolks
1 large egg
2 ½ cups (600 ml) heavy cream
1 cup (240 ml) whole milk
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (290 g) smooth peanut butter
2⁄3 cup (150 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon kosher salt
1 loaf day-old brioche (about 12 ounces/340 g), cut into 1-inch (2.5 cm) cubes (to use fresh brioche, see "How to Use Fresh Brioche in Bread Pudding" note below)
5 ounces (140 g) dark chocolate (60 to 72% cacao), coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons confectioners’ sugar (optional)
1 pint (473 ml) premium vanilla ice cream
Note From the Baked Chefs
We are aware that the average home cook is far more likely to own a baking dish as opposed to eight 8-ounce soufflé dishes, but have no fear: This bread pudding bakes up just as wonderfully in a classic 9-by-13-inch (23-by-33-cm) dish (about 3 quarts/2.8 L). To adapt the recipe, follow the instructions, but increase the bake time to 50 to 55 minutes, until the middle of the pudding is set.
1. Lightly spray eight 8-ounce (240-ml) ramekins or souffle dishes with nonstick cooking spray (alternatively, pour a little canola oil on a paper towel and apply to the bottom and sides of the ramekins). Place four of the prepared ramekins in a large roasting pan and set aside. If you are lucky enough to own two roasting pans, you can place the remaining four ramekins in the second roasting pan. If not, bake them in two batches.
2. In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, melt the butter and dark brown sugar together and cook until bubbly. Add the banana slices and cook until lightly browned and encased in a thick syrup, about 10 minutes, tossing frequently to ensure even caramelization. Use a spoon to transfer the bananas to a large parchment-lined platter in one layer (some of the liquid will transfer with the bananas; this is a good thing).
3. In a very large bowl, whisk together the egg yolks and egg until blended.
4. In a medium saucepan over medium-high heat, whisk together the heavy cream, milk, peanut butter, and light brown sugar. Cook the mixture, whisking constantly, until it is just about to boil, then remove from the heat. Whisking constantly, slowly stream about 1 cup (60 ml) of the cream mixture into the egg mixture. Continue whisking until well combined, then in a slow, steady stream, continue to add the remaining cream mixture into the egg mixture, again whisking constantly, until completely blended. Add the vanilla and salt and whisk vigorously for about 1 minute to release excess heat. Let stand for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.
5. Stir all of the cubed bread into the custard. Use a large spoon to stir and flip the mixture to make sure every piece of bread is coated completely in the custard; set aside for about 30 minutes to soak. During the soaking period, use the back of the spoon to push the bread back down into the custard every few minutes.
6. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Bring a pot or kettle of water to a boil.
7. Divide the chocolate equally among the prepared ramekins. On top of the chocolate, divide about half of the bread-and-custard mixture evenly among the ramekins. Add the bananas in an even layer to each ramekin. Top the banana layer with the remaining bread-and-custard mixture. Pour boiling water into the roasting pan until the water reaches about halfway up the sides of the ramekins.
8. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, until the custard is set: A toothpick inserted into the center of the custard should come out clean, the custard will start to pull away slightly from the sides of the ramekin, and the top will look baked, not wet. Remove the baking dish from the oven, remove the ramekins from the hot water with tongs, and allow the puddings to cool for 20 to 30 minutes. Dust the warm bread puddings with confectioners' sugar and serve with vanilla ice cream, if desired.
How To Store
To store bread pudding, cool to room temperature, cover, and refrigerate for up to 3 days. Reheat bread pudding in a 250°F (120°C) oven until warm throughout (and, yes, some people happily eat the pudding directly from the refrigerator). A surprising number of people firmly believe that bread pudding tastes even better on Day Two; we like Day One and Day Two equally.
How to Use Fresh Brioche in Bread Pudding
You can use fresh brioche in this bread pudding recipe, but you need to toast it first so it absorbs the custard properly. Here is how we do it:
1. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C).
2. Cut the loaf of brioche into 1-inch (2.5-cm) cubes.
3. Place the brioche cubes on a parchment-lined baking sheet and toast for 10 to 15 minutes, tossing every 5 minutes.
4. Remove from the oven and let cool on the baking sheet, then proceed as directed.