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Almond Bread Pudding with Eggnog Sauce

Makes one 9 inch round dish, about 8 servings

1 small loaf of bread, cubed (about 5 cups)*
1 1/2 cup (12 fluid ounces) heavy cream
3/4 cup (6 fluid ounces) whole milk
1/2 cup (115 grams) sugar
5 large egg yolks
1 tablespoon almond extract
1/2 cup (100 grams) sliced almonds

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease a 9-inch baking dish with butter or spray with nonstick cooking spray.

In a bowl, whisk together the egg yolks. In a small saucepan combine the heavy cream, milk and sugar over medium heat. Heat until bubbles appear at the edges and mixture is steaming, do not boil. Remove from heat and slowly pour into the egg yolks in a small steady stream, while whisking constantly. Add the almond extract.

Put the cubed bread in the greased baking dish, packing it as tight as possible. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes, making sure that none of the exposed cubes are left dry. Let sit for one hour, occasionally pressing down the cubes to make sure they are all absorbing the custard.

Sprinkle with the sliced almonds. Bake until top is golden and crisp, about 30-35 minutes. Serve warm or cold with eggnog sauce (recipe below) and more almonds.

Store bread pudding in the fridge for up to several days.

*If possible use a sweetened enriched bread like challah or brioche for a richer pudding. Alternately, you can use any artisan baguette or loaf.

Eggnog Sauce

1 1/2 cup (12 fluid ounces) eggnog
1 tablespoon brandy
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 teaspoon almond extract

Whisk all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Set over medium high heat and bring to a boil, stirring frequently. Boil for one minute until sauce has thickened, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.

Serve warm or cold. Store in the fridge.