Okay, I’ll be honest. This recipe could be made simpler by using all store bought ingredients, but where’s the fun in that? Part of the fun, I think, is tasting the literal fruits of your labor! And I know it may not be always possible to forage for berries in the wild, but if you can, the results are so much better. That’s right. Get out there and forage before the they are all gone!
If you can’t find day old croissants, you can make them stale yourself by splitting them in half and spreading them out on a baking sheet and leaving it in an oven warmed to about 175 degrees F. for about an hour or so. I made this twice, and the second time I actually forgot about the croissants and left them in the oven for about 2 hours, and they were very, very dry, that I thought for sure that it wouldn’t work, but it turned out fine! So it’s not necessary to get it too dry, but just know that it would still work if you did.
Also, the jam that you make with the berries is so much better than the store bought kind. I can’t say enough good things about the jam used. I found the recipe from allrecipes.com, and the cinnamon and allspice and lemon juice are so subtle that they complement the berries without overpowering them. I love it and actually made a double batch that I kept in our fridge for our toast!
Blackberry croissant bread pudding
2 cups + 3/4 cup blackberries, separated
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/3 cup sugar
1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
5 croissants, days old, preferably stale or slightly dry, split horizontally
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup half and half
1/2 cup water
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into pea-sized cubes
First make the jam. Place the 2 cups of blackberries in a saucepan. Add the 1/3 cup sugar and salt and crush or mash the berries with a potato masher, or use a fork. Try to get about a tablespoon of juice and place the juice in a small bowl and add the cornstarch to it and mix or whisk the cornstarch into the juice. Add the juice/cornstarch back to the berries in the saucepan and bring to a simmer on medium heat, stirring often, for about 10 minutes. Remove from heat and add the cinnamon, nutmeg, and lemon juice, and stir to combine. Place in a glass jar or bowl, cover and let cool in the refrigerator for at least an hour.
If croissants are not stale, place on a baking sheet split open horizontally in a warm oven heated to about 175 degrees F., and leave in there for about an hour, then let cool.
Slather about 1-2 Tablespoons of cooled jam on bottom sides, and place top sides as if to make jam sandwiches with each croissant. Cut each croissant into 5 or six strips. Arrange each strip haphazardly on an 8″ x 8″ square pan , but make sure the bottoms are on the bottom, and that all the surface of the bottom of the pan is covered with strips of the croissant strips. Set aside.
In a medium mixing bowl, combine the eggs, condensed milk, half and half, water, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt, and whisk together until thoroughly mixed. Pour slowly and thoroughly over all areas of the croissant jam sandwich strips. Make sure all the bottom areas are moistened.
Place dollops of any remaining jam evenly on the top. If you want less jammy goodness and more of the croissants showing, skip adding remaining jam on top. Arrange about a 1/2 cup of blackberries spread out randomly throughout the top, as well, and do the same with the small cubed butter. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate at least 2 hours to overnight.
In the morning, heat oven to 325 degrees F. Adjust aluminum foil so that it’s not tightly wrapped and just sitting loosely on top of pan. Place pan on center rack and bake for about an hour, then remove foil and continue to bake for about 15-20 minutes, until no watery liquid comes out if you stick a knife in the center of it. Let cool on a wire rack for about 20 minutes before slicing and serving. Serve with either a dusting of confectioners sugar, maple syrup, or even a dollop of slightly sweetened whipped cream.