When life hands you lemons, you make lemonade.

But when life hands you a 2-day-old baguette, a freshly opened bottle of Maker’s Mark and five delicious snowbound days, you make Bourbon Bread Pudding. With a warm, buttery bourbon sauce. And bourbon-soaked raisins.

It’s the sort of dessert you want to curl up around and savor while you watch the snow fall. Or read a book. Or watch “The Matrix” trilogy from start to finish in its entirety.

Traditionally, cooks made bread pudding to use up stale bread, but if you don’t have a geriatric baguette handy, you can tear the bread and toast it in the oven. You want the bread to be dry so that it can fully soak in the custard, a magical concoction made up of common ingredients – egg yolks, brown sugar, heavy cream, whole milk, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and bourbon.

Once the pudding is baked, with a liberal sprinkling of cinnamon and sugar and yes-yes sweet butter on top, it’s like a hug in a bowl. Soft and warm and wonderfully familiar. But add the bourbon sauce, and it’s more like a grope.

So, what are you waiting for? Add the bourbon sauce.

New Orleans Bourbon Bread Pudding with Bourbon Sauce

Adapted from “Cook’s Country”

Serves 8 to 10

  • 1 (18- to 20-inch) French baguette, torn into 1-inch pieces (10 cups)
  • 1 cup raisins
  • 3/4 cup bourbon, divided
  • 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed and chilled, plus extra for dish
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 1 1/2 cups packed light brown sugar
  • 3 cups heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons granulated sugar
  • Bourbon Sauce (recipe follows)
  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Butter 13 by 9-inch baking dish, and set aside.
  2. Arrange the bread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake until crisp and brown, about 12 minutes, turning pieces over halfway through and rotating the baking sheet front to back. Let bread cool. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees F.
  3. Meanwhile, heat raisins and 1/2 cup bourbon in a small saucepan over medium-high heat until bourbon begins to simmer, 2 to 3 minutes. Strain the mixture, placing the bourbon and raisins in separate bowls.
  4. In a large bowl, whisk yolks, brown sugar, cream, milk, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Whisk in remaining 1/4 cup bourbon plus the bourbon used to plump the raisins. Toss in the toasted bread until evenly coated. Let mixture sit until bread begins to absorb custard, about 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. If the majority of the bread is still hard when squeezed, soak for another 15 to 20 minutes.
  5. Pour half the bread mixture into the prepared baking dish, and sprinkle with half the raisins. Repeat with the remaining bread mixture and raisins. Cover the dish with foil, and bake for 45 minutes.
  6. Meanwhile, mix granulated sugar and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a small bowl. Using your fingers, pinch 6 tablespoons butter into sugar mixture until the crumbs are the size of small peas. Remove foil from pudding, sprinkle with butter mixture, and bake, uncovered, until custard is just set, 20 to 25 minutes. Increase oven temperature to 450 degrees F and bake until top of pudding forms golden crust, about 2 minutes.
  7. Let the pudding cool on a wire rack for 30 minutes (or up to 2 hours). Serve alone or with Bourbon Sauce.

Bourbon Sauce

Makes about 1 cup

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup bourbon, divided
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • Pinch salt
  • 2 teaspoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  1. In a small bowl, whisk cornstarch and 2 tablespoons bourbon until well combined.
  2. Using a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the cream and sugar until the sugar dissolves. Whisk in cornstarch mixture, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low, and cook until sauce thickens, 3 to 5 minutes.
  3. Take the pan off the heat, and stir in salt, butter and the remaining 2 tablespoons bourbon.
  4. Drizzle warm sauce over bread pudding. Or ice cream. Or directly into your mouth.