Dulce de leche is a thick, sweet milk caramel that has a unique – and addictive – flavor that is unlike that of any other caramel sauce. It is made from milk and sugar, which are cooked together until both the sugar and the milk solids are caramelized and flavorful. It’s hard not to simply eat it with a spoon, but like other caramel sauces, dulce de leche is a fun ingredient to work with in the kitchen and this Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding has plenty of it!
One of the things that I like about this recipe is that it is incredibly easy to make and only requires a few ingredients. You can pick up a can of dulce de leche in the baking (or International/Mexixan, depending on your local store) aisle of most supermarkets these days, which means that you can keep a can on hand that you can use any time the craving strikes. You can also make your own, if you feel like spending a little bit of extra time in the kitchen.
The dulce de leche is very thick and dissolves best in warm milk, so I recommend heating up a small portion of the milk for the base of this pudding and dissolving the dulce de leche in it while it is still hot. While it can be nice to find a pocket of dulce de leche in the pudding, you’ll get the most flavor in every bite if you dissolve it well. I added a little extra sugar, as well as vanilla and salt, to the milk, egg and caramel mixture before adding my bread cubes. A plain, white bread is a good choice for this bread pudding, however a challah or brioche will make the finished dessert even more decadent. If you are in the mood for something a bit more decadent, cinnamon swirl bread happens to pair very well with caramel, too.
The bread pudding is rich and you can taste that deep caramel flavor in every single bite. I like this pudding best when it is still slightly warm from the oven, though it can be reheated in the microwave, as needed. I typically serve it on its own – with a cup of hot coffee or an espresso on the side – but it pairs wonderfully with a small scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream, as well.
Dulce de Leche Bread Pudding
2 1/2 cups milk, divided
8-oz dulce de leche
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp salt
3 large eggs
6 cups cubed bread (pref. white or challah)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8×8 or 9×9-inch baking pan.
Warm up 1 cup of the milk in the microwave or on the stovetop until it is hot to the touch, but not boiling. Add dulce de leche to the hot milk and whisk until it is completely dissolved. Whisk in the sugar, vanilla and salt. Allow milk to cool slightly (about 5 minutes) until it is not hot to the touch, then whisk in eggs. Whisk in remaining milk.
Add cubed bread to the bowl with the milk mixture and press gently with a spatula until the bread cubes begin to soak up the mixture. Allow mixture to sit for 5 minutes, then pour into prepared pan and spread bread cubes into an even layer.
Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until bread pudding is set and a sharp knife inserted into the center comes out clean.
Allow bread pudding to cool for at least 20 minutes before serving to give the custard a little extra time to set up. Pudding can be served warm or chilled, and it can be reheated in the microwave, if necessary.