½ cup unsalted butter, softened
1 cup sifted powdered sugar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon best-quality bourbon or rye
Pinch of salt
8 cups torn or cubed stale raisin bread (about 1 large loaf)
1 cup coarsely chopped pecans
¼ cup granulated sugar
½ teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon mace
¼ teaspoon nutmeg
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup unsalted butter, melted
2 cups half-and-half
1 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1 cup packed light brown sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 cup mashed baked garnet sweet potatoes
For the sauce: In a large bowl use an electric mixer to cream together the butter and powdered sugar until light and fluffy. Mix in the vanilla, liquor and salt. Continue mixing until smooth and creamy. Cover and set aside. Also can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to a month.
For the bread pudding: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish or individual ramekins with cooking spray.
In a large bowl toss together the raisin bread with the pecans, then set aside.
In a small bowl, mix together the granulated sugar, cinnamon, mace, nutmeg and salt. Toss the sugar mixture over the bread and pecans, then stir well. Drizzle everything with the melted butter, then toss to evenly distribute.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the half-and-half, cream, eggs and brown sugar. Add the vanilla and sweet potatoes, then mix well. Pour the sweet potato-cream mixture over the bread mixture and stir until well blended. Let stand for about 5 minutes, then spoon into the prepared baking dish or ramekins. Bake 45-55 minutes (bake ramekins for just 15 to 20 minutes), or until set.
As soon as the bread pudding comes out of the oven, top with hard sauce so that it melts into the crevices. Serve warm.
Cook's note: The bread pudding can be made the day before it is baked and stored, tightly covered, in the refrigerator.
Elizabeth Karmel for The Associated Press