real life test kitchen: coconut bread pudding with banana macadamia nut caramel sauce

hawaiianbrunch

As some of you readers know by now, I just got back from Oahu. It was fantastic, to say the least, and though it’s great to be home for the holidays, I can’t stop trying to hold on to every last drop of Hawaii. So, of course I’m celebrating my Christmas island-style: with a Hawaiian-inspired brunch, centered around a coconut bread pudding with banana macadamia caramel sauce. The custard is basically a traditional Hawaiian delight, Haupia — coconut milk sweetened with sugar and thickened with arrowroot. It makes an amazing (and Vegan!) custard base to be poured over a sweet Hawaiian bread, with a rich, silky mouthfeel and heavenly tropical perfume. I topped the puddin’ with a decadent banana macadamia nut caramel, which has the special addition of red alaea sea salt, that adds an addictive finish and a touch of crunch. And it pairs beautifully with POG (passion orange guava juice) mimosas, grilled Portuguese sausage, and ripe papaya for a very “mele Kalikimaka”. –Megan B. Click for coconut bread pudding with banana macadamia nut caramel sauce!

coconut bread pudding with banana macadamia nut caramel sauce
makes 24 bread pudding muffins or an 8×8 pan

1 loaf (16 oz) of a sweet hawaiian style bread * (challah or brioche work well too), torn into one inch chunks
2-14 oz. cans of coconut milk
4 tbs arrowroot starch (substitute tapioca or cornstarch if needed)
1/2 c sugar
1 tbsp. macadamia nut oil (optional)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Grease your baking dish or paper liners, and set aside. In a saucepan over medium high heat, whisk together coconut milk, sugar, arrowroot and oil, stirring regularly until it begins to thicken. Pour over bread, making sure it is evenly coated. Spoon into prepared pan and bake (20-25 minutes for the muffins, 40-45 for an 8×8 pan). Let cool for at least 10 minutes before serving. Top with banana macadamia caramel (recipe follows)
*If you want to make this vegan, just use a sweeter vegan white or whole wheat bread, or add a tbs of extra sugar.

for the caramel:
1/2 c sugar
1 tsp honey or corn syrup
2 tbs water
1/2 c milk
2 tbs salted butter
1 banana, finely diced
1/2 c roasted unsalted macadamia nuts, chopped
1 pinch (approx. 1/8 tsp) red alaea sea salt
In a large heavy-bottomed saucepan, over medium high heat, dissolve sugar, honey and water together, making sure not to stir- just swirl pan to dissolve. Once sugar achieves a golden brown color, remove from the heat and pour in milk and butter (be careful –it will bubble up a lot), and stir to combine. Fold in bananas, macadamias, and sea salt and serve.

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