Barefoot Contessa Ina Garten’s Delicious Dessert Hack Takes Seconds to Make

Ina Garten has some amazing dessert recipes that are simple to make yet are so impressive to serve to guests. One is her bread pudding dessert, which she has taken to the next level with a sauce that takes literally seconds to create but sounds so fancy: crème anglaise.

Ina Garten speaks onstage during a talk with Helen Rosner at the 2019 New Yorker Festival
Ina Garten | Brad Barket/Getty Images for The New Yorker

Barefoot Contessa’s bread pudding is a decadent dessert

During an episode of Barefoot Contessa: Cook Like a Pro, Garten explained that her “seriously decadent” bread pudding dessert is a crowd-pleaser. “It doesn’t seem that special, but when you make a really good one, everyone wants to have it,” she noted.

Instead of just using bread slices or cubes, she uses both to make the texture just right. “Flavor is really important to me of course, but the texture is equally important,” she explained.

Her go-to bread choice is brioche. “If you raise the bar on the bread, you really change the quality of the bread pudding,” she shared.

Once assembled, the baking dish is placed inside a larger pan for a hot water bath to ensure the dessert cooks evenly.

Ina Garten’s vanilla brioche bread pudding recipe

Garten’s vanilla brioche bread pudding recipe makes a rich and delicious dessert that’s easy to assemble and feeds a crowd.

Ingredients

  • 1 (12-ounce) brioche loaf
  • 3 extra-large whole eggs 
  • 8 extra-large egg yolks 
  • 4 cups half-and-half 
  • 1 cup whole milk 
  • 1 1/4 cups granulated sugar 
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract 
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean 
  • Confectioners’ sugar, for dusting 
  • 2 pints vanilla ice cream, melted 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Slice the bread into five ¾ inch thick slices, then place them on a sheet pan. Dice the remaining bread into 1-inch cubes and spread them on a second sheet pan and bake for 5 minutes until lightly toasted. Garten explained that removing the moisture from the bread allows the custard to seep in more.

Make the custard by whisking the eggs, yolks, half-and-half, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla, and vanilla seeds together in a bowl. Assemble the dessert by laying the bread slices first in a 10-by-12-by-2-inch rectangular baking dish, then add the cubed bread on top. Pour the custard over the top of the bread, making sure everything is covered with custard. Let the pan sit for 10 minutes so the custard is absorbed.

Place the baking dish in a larger pan and pour an inch of hot water in the bigger pan. Cover it with foil, poking a few holes in it so the steam can escape.

Bake for 45 minutes, then uncover and bake an additional 45 minutes. The dessert is done when a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean.

The dessert can be dusted with confectioners’ sugar and served with a delicious vanilla sauce called crème anglaise.

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Ina Garten’s delicious sauce is a perfect (and easy) addition

Garten adds a simple sauce to the bread pudding that requires one ingredient — ice cream. Rather than mix up ingredients to create a sauce, the Barefoot Contessa explained the easiest way to make crème anglaise.

“Here’s a trick for crème anglaise. Vanilla ice cream is crème anglaise that’s been frozen,” she noted. “All you just have to do is defrost some ice cream and, voila, you’ve got crème anglaise.”

It literally takes seconds in the microwave for the ice cream to melt into a delicious sauce that can be drizzled around a piece of bread pudding.