Panettone is a Christmas tradition in Europe and South America, where it was introduced by Italian immigrants, but here, a lot of us are still figuring out what to do with it.

It’s sweet, like cake, but it has the texture of bread.

It’s not a fruitcake, but it’s full of candied citrus and raisins.

It smells like orange-perfumed heaven, but (ermahgerd!) it’s confusing.

A few weeks ago, Bauducco sent me a panettone and some suggestions for what to do with it. Yes! Things like using it for French toast, tiramisu, mini Nutella sandwiches, and – hold everything – bread pudding.

This Panettone Bread Pudding would do magical things for a holiday brunch, but it’s also sweet enough to double as a dessert. Moist, sweet panettone soaked in custard, baked until it puffs and drizzled with a simple (but thoroughly decadent) warm amaretto sauce, which could easily be transformed into a warm bourbon sauce, or spiced rum, or Grand Marnier. Or, you could skip the booze completely and use almond extract. No judgments here.

Oh, and if you are a total raisin-hater, Bauducco also has a chocolate version, studded with Hershey’s milk chocolate chips. You could make this bread pudding with the chocolate panettone, toss in an extra handful of chocolate chip, and use Grand Marnier in the sauce. Just say it was inspired by the Terry’s “Whack and Unwrap!” Chocolate Orange.

Everyone knows how to eat that.

Panettone Bread Pudding with Amaretto Sauce

Adapted from Giada De Laurentiis (“Everyday Italian” via Food Network)

Makes 8 to 10 servings

    Bread Pudding:

  • 1 loaf panettone bread (preferably 1.5 to 2 pounds), cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 7 large eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups whipping cream
  • 2 1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup sugar
    Sauce:

  • 1/2 cup whipping cream
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1/4 cup amaretto liqueur (you could also use almond extract, bourbon, spiced rum)
  • 2 teaspoons cornstarch
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Lightly butter a 9 x 13-inch baking dish.
  2. Arrange the bread cubes in the prepared dish. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, cream, milk, and sugar to blend.
  4. Pour the egg mixture over the bread cubes, and press the bread cubes gently to submerge. Let stand for 30 minutes, occasionally pressing the bread cubes into the custard mixture. (Recipe can be prepared up to this point 2 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)
  5. Bake until the pudding puffs and is set in the center, about 60 minutes. Cool slightly.
  6. To Make the Sauce: Bring the cream, milk, and sugar to a boil in a small heavy saucepan over medium heat, stirring frequently. In a small bowl, mix the amaretto and cornstarch to blend, and then whisk into the cream mixture. Simmer over medium-low heat until the sauce thickens, stirring constantly, 3 to 5 minutes.
  7. Spoon the bread pudding into bowls, drizzle with the warm amaretto sauce, and serve.
Note: You can make the sauce up to 3 days ahead. Just cover and refrigerate it. Then rewarm before serving.