26 December 2013

AUNTIE PASTA: Happy Santo Stefano

CHIAVARI, Italy – December 26, the day after Christmas, is an important national holiday in Italy. It’s the day of Santo Stefano. Santo Stefano, (Saint Stephen) was one of the Seven Apostles, and chosen by Saint Peter to collect donations to help the poor. He was also one of the first martyrs for Christ. In Italy il giorno di Santo Stefano is celebrated by feasting on the leftovers, if there are any, of yesterday’s Christmas dinner.
 Panettone and More
In the spirit of Santo Stefano today’s recipe for bread pudding is a great way to use up any left-over panettone. I never have left-over panettone, so I also buy extra just to make this recipe. Panettone  are so rich and eggy that the pudding bakes into an extra-silky custard that contrasts beautifully with the buttery golden top.

If you want to give your pudding a little extra zing, you can add a little scotch or marsala to your beaten eggs before you pour them over the panettone – no more than a teaspoon and a half of booze though for you only want a hint of flavor. This recipe comes out best if you use a shallow baking pan.

A Whole Lot of Yum

(serves 8)
½ stick unsalted butter, softened
1 lb. panettone, sliced 1 inch thick
¾ cup sugar
3 large eggs, lightly beaten
2 ½ cups half and half (half whole milk, half heavy cream)
2 tablespoons pure vanilla extract
1 ½ teaspoon marsala or scotch

Optional: ½ cup raisins softened with additional marsala, scotch or hot water

Butter sliced panettone on both sides and lightly toast in batches in a large heavy skillet over medium heat until golden brown. Set aside to cool while you prepare the rest of the ingredients.

In a deep bowl whick together the eggs, sugar, the half and half. Add vanilla flavoring and the marsala or scotch.

Tear panettone into bite size pieces and spread evenly in a buttered 13 x 9 inch bakig dish.  Scatter raisins over top if you are using additional raisins. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F/176 degrees C  with rack in middle position.

Bake until pudding is golden and just set, 35 to 40 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Bread pudding can be made 2 days ahead and refrigerated. Bring to room temperature or slightly reheat before serving.

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