New Orleans Bread Pudding with Lemon Cream Sauce and Chantilly Cream

3 large eggs
1-1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1-1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
2 cups milk
1/2 cup coarsely chopped, toasted pecans
5 cups very stale French bread cubes, with crusts on
1-1/2 cups sugar
1-1/4 teaspoons nutmeg
1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup raisins
Lemon Sauce (Recipe follows)
Chantilly Cream (Recipe follows)

In a large bowl of an electric mixer, beat the eggs on high speed until extremely frothy and bubbles are the size of pinheads, about 3 minutes (or with a metal whisk for about 6 minutes). Add the sugar, vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon and butter and beat on high until well blended. Beat in the milk, then stir in the raisins and pecans.

Place bread cubes in a greased loaf pan. Pour the egg mixture over them and toss until the bread is soaked. Let it sit until you see only a narrow bead of liquid around the pan's edge, about 45 minutes, patting the bread down into the liquid occasionally. Place in a pre-heated 350 degree oven. IMMEDIATELY LOWER THE HEAT to 300 degrees and bake 40 minutes. Increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees and bake until pudding is well browned and puffy, about 15 - 20 minutes more.

To serve, put 1-1/2 tablespoon warm Lemon Sauce in each dessert dish, then spoon in 1/2 cup of hot bread pudding and top with 1/4 cup Chantilly Cream. Alternative: Eliminate Lemon Sauce and Chantilly Sauce and top with Whisky Sauce (recipe below).

Lemon Sauce:
1 lemon, halved
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup water
2 teaspoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Squeeze 2 tablespoons juice from the lemon halves and place juice in a 1 quart saucepan; add lemon halves, water and sugar and bring to a boil. Stir in the dissolved cornstarch and vanilla. Cook 1 minute over high heat, stirring constantly. Strain, squeezing the sauce from the lemon rinds. Makes about 3/4 cup. Serve warm.

Chantilly Cream
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 teaspoon brandy
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon Grand Marnier
1 tablespoon dairy sour cream

Refrigerate a medium sized bowl and beaters until very cold. Combine cream, vanilla, brandy and Grand Marnier in the bowl and beat with electric mixer on medium speed 1 minute. Add the sugar and sour cream and beat on medium just until soft peaks form, about 3 minutes. "Do Not Overbeat." (Overbeating will make it grainy, which is the first step to butter. Once grainy you can't return it to its former consistency, but if this happens, enjoy it on toast.)


Whisky Sauce
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup bourbon
1/2 cup sugar

Beat cream until slightly thickened, add sugar and beat until thick. Whisk in the bourbon and serve with bread pudding.