This is what we Brits consider “pudding,” which is far removed from its American incarnation. For this version, think bread pudding, only so much more luxurious: sweet, softly solid, and starchy, offering solace to the soul and bolstering the body. To eat it is heaven. When I make this for supper (most often on a Monday when I have staling croissants left over from the weekend), we eat nothing else. Why would one need to?
2 stale croissants
½ cup sugar
2 tablespoons water
½ cup heavy cream
½ cup whole milk
2 tablespoons bourbon
2 large eggs, beaten
Heat the oven to 350°F.
Tear the croissants into pieces and place them in a small gratin dish. (I use a cast-iron oval one with a capacity of about 2 cups.)
Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan, and swirl around to help dissolve the sugar before placing the saucepan on the burner over medium to high heat.
Caramelize the mixture by letting it bubble away for 3 to 5 minutes, or until it turns a deep amber color. Keep looking but don’t be too timid.
Reduce the heat to low and add the cream—ignoring all spluttering—and, whisking, the milk and bourbon. Any solid toffee that forms in the pan will dissolve easily if you keep whisking over low heat. Take the pan off the heat and, still whisking, add the beaten eggs. Pour the caramel-bourbon custard over the croissants, and if the croissants are very stale, let the pudding stand for 10 minutes to steep.
Bake the pudding for 20 minutes. Remove from the oven and prepare to swoon.