Unfortunately, due to the weather effects of Hurricane Sandy, our township has decided to postpone trick-or-treating until Saturday. However, the city is still holding its trick-or-treat hours as previously scheduled tonight from 6:00-8:00pm. I heard a little kid at the gym yesterday telling his Mother about his plans to go trick-or-treating both nights and load up on the goodies: "I'll get so much candy, Mom! More than I ever could have before! It's like a Halloween miracle!"
At least someone is happy about it.
I just hope that we do not run out of candy like we did the first year we were married. Paul and I had bought big bags of Twix, Snickers, and Almond Joys to pass out to eager trick-or-treaters. However, none came. Apparently our complex was not a popular Halloween hot spot Wallowing in feelings of rejection and disappointment, Paul and I consumed the entire bowl of candy. I had just finished unwrapping the last Twix bar when our doorbell rang. Paul answered and revealed a tiny army of little toddlers, dressed in the cutest little outfits that included everything from Winnie-the-Pooh to Spider-man. Paul and I could not turn them away empty handed. The cuteness factor was almost overwhelming. While Paul told them to wait, I dashed into the kitchen and opened up our freezer where we normally kept a small stash of candy. I pulled out some Dove dark chocolate eggs leftover from Easter as well as two solid 1-pound milk chocolate bunnies. I gave each child a handful of the chocolate eggs and plopped the massive chocolate bunnies into the bags of the two youngest. The force from the drop of the bunny monstrosities was so great that the little tykes just about dropped their treat bags. However, there was no doubt that their eyes widened with pleasure when they saw how big that piece of chocolate was.
After they left, we shut off our lights and hid in our bedroom to avoid any other trick-or-treaters. We really did not have anything left!
Even though the Halloween festivities are postponed, I proceeded to prepare a pumpkin-themed dessert for this evening. The other day, my dear friend Eva, a remarkable scientist and a foodie in her own right, sent me a recipe for a pumpkin bread pudding. And I had to make it right away. I have no idea how she knew, but my crazy, pregnant self was craving bread pudding over the past few days. The idea of a decadent version made with pumpkin sounded too good to be true! Add in a bit of salted caramel sauce and I might just eat the whole pan by myself hot out of the oven!
The BEST part about bread pudding is how easy it comes together. I had some challah in the freezer (I always have challah in the freezer it seems!) and I just took it out the day before baking, chopped it into 1/2-inch cubes and then let it sit out, uncovered, overnight to properly stale. The next morning, I made the pumpkin custard, tossed it with the bread cubes, and poured it into the baking pan. I let it hang out in the fridge until I was ready to bake in the mid-afternoon. The caramel sauce was made while the pudding was baking in the oven. Easy, simple, and it can all be made ahead of time and reheated gently before serving!
If I don't eat it all first...
Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Salted Caramel Sauce
adapted from Epicurious
For the Bread Pudding:
2 cups whole milk
1 15-ounce can pure pumpkin
1 cup packed plus 2 tablespoons dark brown sugar
2 large eggs
1 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
10 cups of 1/2-inch cubed challah
For the Salted Caramel Sauce:
1 1/4 cups packed dark brown sugar
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup whipping cream
1/2 teaspoon fleur de sel (or to taste)
Preheat oven to 350°F.
Whisk half and half, pumpkin, dark brown sugar, eggs, pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon and vanilla extract in large bowl to blend. Fold in bread cubes. Transfer mixture to 11x7-inch glass baking dish. Let stand at least 15 minutes (this can be covered and refrigerated for a few hours before baking). Bake pumpkin bread pudding until tester inserted into center comes out clean, about 40 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the caramel sauce by whisking the brown sugar and butter in heavy medium saucepan over medium heat until the butter melts. Whisk in cream and stir until sugar dissolves and sauce is smooth, about 3 minutes. Whisk in the fleur de sel until combined.
Serve the pudding warm with a generous drizzle of caramel sauce.