Winter’s Dessert

Winter’s Dessert

That would be bread pudding, the humble postprandial comfort food that’s becoming haute.

Bread pudding is all about contrast: the contrast between the custardy center and the crunchy bits of crust that poke out of the top and brown in the oven; the contrast between woodsy cinnamon or nutmeg and toothaching sweetness; and, these days, the contrast between its humble origins and the white tablecloths it is increasingly being served upon.

For many years, the best old-style bread pudding in the Twin Cities was in the Warehouse District, at the very old-style Monte Carlo, drizzled with a buttery caramel sauce. Now a new generation of bread pudding has come of age. Case in point: Hazel’s Northeast in Minneapolis, which serves up a gravy boat full of bread pudding, topped with a big dollop of whipped cream.

Additional ingredients vary with the season: They might be berries, they might be apples. Sometimes Hazel’s makes its pudding from the previous day’s cinnamon rolls. Citizen Café in South Minneapolis forgoes the crunchy contrast and bakes the pudding in a uniform slab, custardy and dense.

Downtown, Brit’s Pub also takes the custardy slab approach, serving it up with warm raisins and a caramel hard sauce. But it is the Cooper, the St. Louis Park outpost of the Kieran’s Pub empire, that makes bread pudding elegant. A warm, delicate wedge with thin, defined strata of bread and apple and the faintest hint of cinnamon— this is just what you’d want after a large and festive meal.

Topped with a coating of rich pastry cream, a drizzle of sweet caramel sauce, and a tiny scoop of melting ice cream—it’s the ultimate study in bread pudding’s contrasts and possibilities.