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Feeling ‘Dough-Eyed’ Thanks To Bread Pudding

By Ali Resich Photos By MISSY ROMERO
July 10, 2016

The editor drizzles Frangelico-infused magic onto White Chocolate Bread Pudding at Ruth's Chris. It's one of four creme anglaise sauces diners may choose from to accompany their dessert.

The editor drizzles Frangelico-infused magic onto White Chocolate Bread Pudding at Ruth’s Chris. It’s one of four creme anglaise sauces diners may choose from to accompany their dessert.

When it comes to satisfying one’s sweet tooth,the classic way to do it is to seek out bread pudding. The sweet seduction of a freshly baked batch is enough to make even low-carbers throw out their diets, and according to some historians, it’s been that way since the 11th century. Surely there’s something special about a dessert that’s been around for ages and is found all over the world, from Europe and South America to Southeast Asia.

Bread pudding has humble beginnings, emerging as “poor man’s pudding” because it was the perfect way to salvage stale bread (and cover the flavor with the addition of milk, sugar and eggs) that was too valuable to waste. Interestingly enough, the dough-lightful dish has climbed its way up to the top of the food chain, so to speak, becoming commonplace in high-end restaurants for the modern diner to enjoy. And yet, even when served on white tablecloths, there remains a wholesomeness about bread pudding that renders it universally appealing.

The simple base that makes up the dessert also is an excellent canvas for building other flavors, and a number of local chefs have done just that. After reading about their creations here, be sure to flip to our back page feature for even more bread pudding!

LIGHT BUT BRIGHT

Usually made up of tummy-filling ingredients, bread pudding can be considered a heavy dessert, depending on where you have it. The beauty of White Chocolate Bread Pudding ($11) at Ruth’s Chris is that it represents the best of both worlds: full of rich flavors yet lighter than any bread pudding you’ve had — meaning you can happily wipe out a generous portion without feeling weighed down.

White Chocolate Bread Pudding ($11) from Ruth's Chris, served alongside spirited creme anglaise sauces (diners may choose one)

White Chocolate Bread Pudding ($11) from Ruth’s Chris, served alongside spirited creme anglaise sauces (diners may choose one)

The exact recipe remains a closely guarded secret, but executive chef Eser Domingo does share that what makes this bread pudding so special is the fact that it’s whiter than white.

What I mean by that is, the dessert calls for good old-fashioned white bread, white chocolate for a flavorful layer of luxury and, last but not least, egg whites that are whipped into a special meringue that contributes to the dish’s cloud-like texture. In addition to all that white-hot goodness, the bread is folded into the meringue mixture to absorb every ounce of it, and the whole concoction is “fluffed up” throughout the lengthy cooking process to achieve moist, airy pudding perfection.

And let’s not forget about the sauce. Guests may choose from one of four thick creme anglaises that have been spirited with Chambord, Tia Maria, Grand Marnier or Frangelico. Each distinct flavor from the liqueurs — be it the coffee notes in Tia Maria, or the orange flair in Grand Marnier — shines against its creamy backdrop.

Additionally, there’s the warmth factor, and I’m not just talking about temperature. “This dessert reminds me of home,” shares the chef. “Mom used to always make it and it’s something that anyone can do with leftover bread, cream, sugar and eggs.” Domingo mingo also urges bread pudding enthusiasts to ” be creative with it like we did with our different sauces.”

Ruth’s Chris Steak House
Waterfront Plaza
500 Ala Moana Blvd., Honolulu
599-3860

‘MAC’ ATTACK

For a restaurant that specializes in Modern American Cuisine, putting a tried-and-true favorite like bread pudding on the menu is a no-brainer.

“Bread pudding is definitely a staple when it comes to comfort food, and it was a natural choice to have it on our menu,” explains MAC 24/7 Bar & Restaurant executive chef James Aptakin.

But doing a standard rendition of the dessert was never in the cards for this imaginative chef, who is dedicated to bringing Hawaii’s diverse flavors into his delicious interpretation of American fare. “We also wanted to give it that Island touch using Portuguese bread,” he continues.

Portuguese Bread Pudding ($9) from MAC 24/7 Bar & Restaurant

Portuguese Bread Pudding ($9) from MAC 24/7 Bar & Restaurant

That’s how Portuguese Bread Pudding ($9) was created, complete with jewel-like morsels of Okinawan sweet potato. “The sweet potato is grown and brought in from Molokai, keeping our ingredients locally sourced as much as possible.”

In addition to the tropical pizzazz Aptakin throws into his bread pudding, he also harks back to the roots of the dish, utilizing the remaining fresh pastries that are made in house as the base of the dish so that nothing at the eatery goes to waste.

Maple-bourbon glaze takes the flavor profile up a notch, while a nostalgic touch of toasted marshmallows brings a whimsical finish to this ever-so-dreamy dessert.

Luckily, for customers whose sugar cravings hit hard at any time of day, they can savor Portuguese Bread Pudding around the clock, seven days a week. The same goes for all the eatery’s signature dishes, including Chicken Fried Steak & Eggs and the plate lunch-inspired MAC-Aloha.

MAC 24/7 Bar & Restaurant
Hilton Waikiki Beach
2500 Kuhio Ave., Waikiki
921-5564 mac247waikiki.com