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CALABAZA GIVES BREAD PUDDING A TROPICAL TWIST

Oct. 28, 2001 – Thick, sweet, golden brown and often studded with raisins, cut squares of bread pudding are a favorite dessert in the Virgin Islands.
Bread pudding is a simple dessert born of the thrifty homemaker's desire to use up stale bread in a tasty way. In its most basic form, cubed or sliced bread is saturated with a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and spices, then baked. Past this point, the variations are endless.
French bread is most often used for bread pudding. However, butter bread is a favorite alternative in our islands. Health-conscious folks may use whole wheat bread, along with an egg substitute, low fat milk, and artificial sugar. Vanilla is the most common flavoring, although cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and even rum may be added.
Supplemental ingredients can be stirred into the basic bread pudding mix for extra pizzazz. For example, some recipes call for melting chocolate into the milk and sugar mixture. A tropical bread pudding recipe I once sampled had layers of sliced banana, chunked pineapple and flaked coconut tucked between the tiers of bread. For this week's recipe, this being the end of October, I thought a pumpkin-flecked bread pudding might be just the right twist. The recipe below is made from fresh West Indian pumpkin, or calabaza. Enjoy!
Calabaza Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
3 pounds calabaza (enough to make 2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin)
2 cups undiluted evaporated milk or half and half cream
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 slices butter bread-style white sandwich bread
1/2 cup raisins
another 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
Remove seeds and inner strings from calabaza. Cut in chunks and placein a large kettle. Cover with water and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until calabaza is tender. Drain. When calabaza has cooled, cut peel off. Place flesh into a saucepan. Over medium heat, mash and stir calabaza until excess water is removed.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the milk, 1 cup dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, vanilla and 2 cups mashed pumpkin. Fold in bread cubes and raisins.
Transfer mixture to a greased 11×7-inch glass baking dish. Let stand 15 minutes, then bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.
While pudding is baking, make caramel sauce: Whisk 1 1/4 cups brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. To serve, pour caramel sauce over top of pudding.
Makes 15 servings. Per serving: 360 calories, 14 gms fat (36 percent fat calories), 67 mg cholesterol, 253 mg sodium.

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Oct. 28, 2001 - Thick, sweet, golden brown and often studded with raisins, cut squares of bread pudding are a favorite dessert in the Virgin Islands.
Bread pudding is a simple dessert born of the thrifty homemaker's desire to use up stale bread in a tasty way. In its most basic form, cubed or sliced bread is saturated with a mixture of milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla and spices, then baked. Past this point, the variations are endless.
French bread is most often used for bread pudding. However, butter bread is a favorite alternative in our islands. Health-conscious folks may use whole wheat bread, along with an egg substitute, low fat milk, and artificial sugar. Vanilla is the most common flavoring, although cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice and even rum may be added.
Supplemental ingredients can be stirred into the basic bread pudding mix for extra pizzazz. For example, some recipes call for melting chocolate into the milk and sugar mixture. A tropical bread pudding recipe I once sampled had layers of sliced banana, chunked pineapple and flaked coconut tucked between the tiers of bread. For this week's recipe, this being the end of October, I thought a pumpkin-flecked bread pudding might be just the right twist. The recipe below is made from fresh West Indian pumpkin, or calabaza. Enjoy!
Calabaza Bread Pudding with Caramel Sauce
3 pounds calabaza (enough to make 2 cups cooked, mashed pumpkin)
2 cups undiluted evaporated milk or half and half cream
1 cup dark brown sugar, packed
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
12 slices butter bread-style white sandwich bread
1/2 cup raisins
another 1 1/4 cups dark brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
Remove seeds and inner strings from calabaza. Cut in chunks and placein a large kettle. Cover with water and bring water to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until calabaza is tender. Drain. When calabaza has cooled, cut peel off. Place flesh into a saucepan. Over medium heat, mash and stir calabaza until excess water is removed.
In a large mixing bowl, stir together the milk, 1 cup dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, vanilla and 2 cups mashed pumpkin. Fold in bread cubes and raisins.
Transfer mixture to a greased 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Let stand 15 minutes, then bake for 40 minutes at 350 degrees Fahrenheit, or until a knife inserted into center comes out clean.
While pudding is baking, make caramel sauce: Whisk 1 1/4 cups brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until butter melts. Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. To serve, pour caramel sauce over top of pudding.
Makes 15 servings. Per serving: 360 calories, 14 gms fat (36 percent fat calories), 67 mg cholesterol, 253 mg sodium.