Updated: Jan 11, 2021
Most people think that Mardi Gras is a single day. If you've been to New Orleans during Carnival season, you're wiser than that. Carnival season starts January 6th each year, when we celebrate our patron saint, Joan of Arc, with the first of many, many parades. That same day, krewes (what we call groups who participate in Mardi Gras parades) take over the streetcars, tossing beads, cups, and jello shots to tourists and locals alike. Since we're only two weeks into the season, I haven't had nearly enough King Cake yet. If you haven't had King Cake, it's a Danish dough woven together with warm spices, sometimes filling, and topped with icing and colored sugar. I usually pick off the icing and sugar, saving my calories for the not-too-sweet bread and filling. These Bread Pudding Muffins fit the bill well into summer and fall, when locals here are wistfully counting down to the next Carnival season (which usually starts the day after Mardi Gras ends!).
Bread Pudding Muffins
4 cups very stale French bread, cut into small ½”-1” cubes (toasted in the oven if necessary)
2 T. softened butter plus 6 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup sugar
1 cup evaporated milk
½ cup whole milk
2 t. vanilla
1 t. cinnamon
½ t. ground ginger (optional)
¼ cup golden raisins soaked in the juice and zest of a small orange
½ t. salt
Two 6-muffin tins
Preheat oven to 350°. Grease each muffin tin and the foil with the softened butter.
In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs, sugar, and salt until the eggs are lighter in color.
Add milks, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and zest to the eggs. Whisk to combine.
Fill muffin tins halfway with bread cubes, evenly sprinkle the soaked raisins between tins, then top with remaining bread (don’t overfill).
Pour ½ tablespoon of melted butter over each muffin. Bake, uncovered, for 7 minutes.
Remove tins from oven and carefully pour the custard over the cubes, taking care to pour evenly over the cubes. Fill until the custard is ¾ from the top of each tin.
Crimp foil, buttered side down, along the long sides of the muffin tins, leaving the short sides open (if you like a very soft bread pudding, crimp the short sides down too).
Bake for 20 minutes, until the center of each muffin bounces back firmly when pressed.
Remove foil and continue to bake until top is golden brown.
Let cool in the tin for 5-10 minutes before serving.