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Thanksgiving Dessert: Spiced Maple Pumpkin Bread Pudding

Bread pudding is one of my desserts of choice when the temperature drips far below zero – I’d choose a pumpkin bread pudding over pie, I think, served warm and topped with whipped cream. It’s a great way to use up a whack of leftover bread ends we generally have around-including raisin bread, which fit right in. It’s also a great dessert to make ahead – toss the bread with the eggs, milk and spices and let it sit in the fridge until you’re ready to bake. Bread pudding is as fitting for brunch as it is for dessert – leftovers are wonderful with coffee.

When you buy canned pumpkin puree, make sure it’s pure pumpkin, not pie filling. If you have leftovers, it freezes well – try adding a spoonful to soups and stews, smoothies, pancakes, muffins or to the cheese sauce to boost nutrients in your next batch of mac & cheese.

Spiced Maple Pumpkin Bread Pudding

1 large day-old (at least) loaf of crusty bread or a baguette, torn or cubed
1 cup pumpkin puree
4 large eggs
1 cup maple syrup or brown sugar
3 cups milk or half & half
2 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
Pinch salt
1 cup raisins

Preheat oven to 350F. Put the torn bread cubes in a large bowl. In another bowl, whisk together the pumpkin, eggs, maple syrup, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt. Pour over the bread, add raisins and toss to coat; cover and refrigerate for a few hours.

Pour the mixture into a large buttered casserole dish or individual ramekins; bake for 1 hour, or until puffed and golden. Serve warm, topped with whipped cream. Serves 6.

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