Pina coladas are a great vacation drink. They’re made with coconut, pineapple and rum, then blended with ice until everything is creamy and ice cold. The tropical flavors are enough to make you picture yourself lounging beside a pool in Hawaii. But the flavor combination in the drink doesn’t need to be limited to a poolside-cocktail, and it puts a great tropical twist on this Pina Colada Bread Pudding.
The bread pudding features fresh pineapple, plenty of coconut and a hint of rum. It is only slightly sweet, so the flavors of the pineapple and coconut stand out against the vanilla and rum custard mixture that the bread is soaked in. The flavors also make this bread pudding feel a bit lighter – though it is as rich as most other bread puddings – just because the flavors are less commonly found in bread pudding in general.
There are many substitutions that can be made in this recipe, so it is easy to customize it to your own tastes and the ingredients you might have on hand. For instance, you can use a blend of coconut milk and regular milk, which I like to do, or you can use all coconut milk for a richer coconut flavor and a completely dairy-free recipe. You can use fresh pineapple or canned/jarred pineapple. You can also use rum extract instead of regular rum if you want to keep this recipe alcohol free. If, on the other hand, you want more alcohol, you might want to serve real pina coladas alongside a serving of this pudding!
I usually like bread puddings to be served warm, but this is a spring and summer bread pudding and I think it is best when it has been chilled. That isn’t to say that it is not good warm, because it is, but chilling it makes it both comforting and refreshing – and perfect for enjoying a warm evening. Serve the bread pudding plain or top it off with a generous dollop of whipped cream. I particularly enjoy this with rum-scented whipped cream (recipe below) to capture the slightly boozy flavor of a blended pina colada. The rum in the bread pudding is subtle and adding some to the whipped cream highlights it just a bit more. You can opt for plain whipped cream or even coconut cream whipped cream as a finishing touch, too.
Pina Colada Bread Pudding
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cups milk (any kind)
4 large eggs
2/3 cup sugar
2 tbsp rum or 1 tsp rum extract
1/4 tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
6 cups cubed bread (preferably challah or brioche), about 1/2 large loaf
1 cup diced pineapple (fresh or jarred/canned)
1 cup sweetened, shredded coconut (plus more for topping)
Preheat oven to 350F. Lightly grease an 8 or 9-inch baking dish.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the coconut milk, milk, eggs, sugar, rum, vanilla and salt until ingredients are well combined and mixture is frothy.
Place the bread cubes, diced pineapple and shredded coconut into a large bowl and pour the egg mixture over the top. Use a spatula to gently fold the ingredients together, evenly distributing the pineapple and coconut and moistening all of the bread. Allow bread mixture to stand for 10 minutes.
Pour bread cube mixture into prepared baking dish and press into an even layer.
Bake for 40-45 minutes, until the pudding is set and a sharp knife inserted into the center of the pudding comes out clean.
Let the pudding cool for at least 20 minutes before serving, or refrigerate until cold. It can be served warm or cold.
Rum-Scented Whipped Cream
1 cup heavy cream, cold
2-3 tbsp confectioners’ sugar
1 tbsp light rum
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
In a large bowl, beat heavy cream until it reaches soft peaks by hand (about 5-6 minutes) or with an electric mixer on low (about 3-5 minutes). Sift in confectioners’ sugar, using more or less to taste, and beat in. Briefly beat in rum and vanilla extract.