October 1, 2012

Sure, I'll take some stale croissants.

I'm on a mission. I hate wasting food... especially really good food with lots of potential. (In case you missed it, my mission is to find awesome ways to use food that may be past its prime.) Most of the time, this just means not overbuying, and making sure I stay on top of the food in my kitchen.

Last week, I got a special treat. Here's the background.

For the past several months, I've been volunteering at Homegrown Local Food Cooperative at least once a week. One of the fabulous producers that sells through Homegrown is Olde Hearth Bread Company. Olde Hearth makes some pretty good croissants. Last Wednesday, there were three lonely croissants sitting in the pastry case. They had been there since Saturday. So, you can imagine that they were pretty hard and looked like they were only there to be photographed for a food blog. :) Instead of throwing them away, I offered to buy them at a discount (yay).

We don't eat a whole lot of bread in our house, so whenever we buy some, there is a high likelihood that some of it will go stale. (I have some bread on my counter right now that is just begging to be made into stuffing.) I often grind up baguettes to use for breadcrumbs or use slices for crostini, but these croissants were special. It was a toss-up between bread pudding and french toast... bread pudding won, but this could easily be adapted for a very special breakfast.

I apologize for my photos... I need to stop using my phone for these things.

I whipped this up on a Thursday night. It took about 5 minutes to come together, and it cooked while we ate dinner. It was light and airy, but still rich, thanks to the Nutella. It totally hit the spot. I was so excited about this dessert that it even inspired me to start writing again. Go make this. Soon.

I'll be back with another recipe in the next week. I promise.

Nutella Croissant Bread Pudding

Recipe adapted from The Novice Chef

Note: We ate ours plain, accompanied by a glass of cold milk. Jessica recommends serving with a "healthy scoop" of vanilla bean ice cream, which, I'm sure, would be fantastic. We also reheated leftovers the following evening (in a 350 degree oven for 10-15 minutes). The texture changed a bit, but it was still delicious.


3-4 large croissants, preferably stale (mine were very large, crisp, and airy, not doughy)
1/3 cup Nutella (you don't really need to measure, just use as much as you want)
2 whole large eggs
2 egg yolks
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 cups half and half or milk
3/8 cup sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
pinch of salt



Preheat oven to 375 degrees and grease an 8 x 8 glass baking dish. You may need a different size dish, depending on the density of your croissants, but this worked for me.

Slice each croissant in half lengthwise and spread a generous scoop of Nutella on one side. Sandwich the halves back together and roughly chop into 1-2 inch pieces. Layer croissant/nutella pieces evenly in prepared glass baking dish.

In a large bowl, combine large eggs, egg yolks, heavy cream, half and half (or milk), sugar, cinnamon, vanilla extract, and a pinch of salt. Pour the custard mixture over the croissants and allow to soak for 10 minutes, pressing down gently.

Loosely cover the baking dish with aluminum foil. Cut a few small holes in the foil to allow steam to escape. Bake for 40-45 minutes. Then remove foil and bake for 10 to 15 more minutes or until the pudding is set and a knife inserted in the center comes out mostly clean. Remove from the oven and cool slightly. Serve warm or at room temperature. Store in an airtight container, in the refrigerator, for up to 3 days.

Serves 4-6