It's quite funny... when I tweeted about making this delicious little treat, Aviv at Sidewalk Citizen Bakery (and my Momma... though not via Twitter) replied with something that I agreed wholeheartedly with... that is a sin to let croissants go stale!
It certainly wasn't the ideal situation. I love croissants. Plain and cold. Slightly warmed and crisp. With bright, tangy raspberry jam. With marmalade and fresh fruit. I ate croissant after croissant but couldn't quite get through the 12 or so that I bought before they started to go slightly stale. At that point, I decided to embrace the stale and welcome it into my kitchen with open arms... and bathe it in custard.
As is often the case for anything that I make, the inspiration often comes from what I have on hand... raspberries, stale croissants, maple syrup and cream. And a delicious sweet-treat started to take shape.
3/4 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon vanilla
2 teaspoons cinnamon
Sprinkle of nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup milk
1 cup cream
(I used skim milk... and half and half for the cream.)
(If the croissants are not stale, you can toast them slightly in the oven... creating little dry sponges that will absorb all of the custard and flavours that you add.)
Fresh whipped cream
I love desserts that are generally effortless, yet impress and satisfy those with whom you share. This is just that.
Slice the croissants in half and cover one side with a nice, generous slather of raspberry jam. (I have to credit Senie for the amazing jam that I used here.) You're going to make seven little jammy sandwiches out of the croissants.
Once your sandwiches are made, slice them into cubes and fill your casserole (or ramekins) with the cubes, layering fresh raspberries throughout. I used two small ramekins (about ~10 cm in diameter) and one larger casserole (~20 cm in diameter)... since two were given out and one stayed at home!
Now, mix up your custard. This is just like making french toast! Combine your eggs, syrup, sugar, vanilla, milk and spices.
Then pour your custard mixture over the bread. You may have to do this a bit at a time, so that it doesn't overflow! Give the custard and bread some time to get together... let the custard soak right in. I left it for about thirty minutes, topped it up with custard and left it for a few more minutes.
Bake at 350 F for about 60 minutes. As with any timing/temperature, every oven is slightly different... as are your ramekins and so on. Insert a knife into the centre of your croissant pudding to test its doneness. If it is too gooey and doesn't appear to be set, then bake for another 5-10 minutes and test again, repeating until you are satisfied. A pudding should be dense and moist but not wet... with a lovely crispness to the top (especially any croissant edges sticking up).
Let cool (at least slightly), then dish up... with fresh raspberries, drizzle of maple syrup and dollop of whipped cream. This isn't an overly sweet dish and one that, yes, I did enjoy as breakfast on Saturday morning. When I thought of it as french toast, I needed no further justification!