There’s a lot more going on at Serenbe than meets the eye. In addition to our arts and culture scene, resident life, vacationers and visitors to the Inn and hundreds of weddings, Serenbe also draws meetings and conventions from all over the country.
The National Pecan Shellers Association recently chose Serenbe as their spot to bring together top chefs in the field of large-scale production—corporate chefs, caterers, etc.—to discuss pecans and come up with new dishes.
And lucky me: I got to judge their cooking contest. Each of the three teams had a mystery bag full of ingredients that they had to use to create an appetizer, main dish, side and dessert.
I was blown away with the level of creativity that went into things like chai soba noodles with chopped lettuce and pecans, pecanwood-smoked tenderloin and an absolutely amazing pecan burger. Atlanta’s own Carolyn O’Neil, a registered dietitian and food writer, made a pecan mojito with fresh ginger ale, lime LaCroix water and mint and Kami Rose of Kami Rose Baking Company made this bread pudding studded with pecans and dried fruits.
Instead of cow’s milk, she moistened the day-old bread with milk that had been steeped with pecans overnight. You can skip that step, but it’s worth the extra time for the subtle nuttiness throughout. This dish makes a wonderful addition to the brunch table or an exquisite Thanksgiving dessert for those who aren’t partial to pumpkin pie.
Seared Sweet Pecan Bread Pudding
- 1 quart heavy cream
- 4 whole eggs
- 2 cups white sugar
- 2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 tablespoon cinnamon
- 2 cups milk or pecan milk (recipe follows)
- 1 cup dried cranberries
- 1 ½ cups small pecan pieces
- 1 cup golden raisins
- Day-old bread, torn (1 ½ baguette; 10-15 small dinner rolls; or 8-10 large croissants)
1. Whisk heavy cream, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract, kosher salt, cinnamon and milk in a medium-sized bowl.
2. Add torn bread, nuts and dried fruits to the mixture. Using your hands, begin work and mash the bread mixture together to ensure the liquid is thoroughly soaking through each bread piece.
3. Cover bowl with cling wrap and store in cooler overnight.
4. Unwrap and, using a wooden spoon, turn mixture to re-incorporate any loose liquids. Pour into a greased large casserole baking dish.
5. Bake at 325 degrees F for 40-50 minutes or until center is no longer jiggly and top of pudding is golden brown.
6. Pull from oven and let cool 1 hour. Serve immediately with maple syrup for a brunch item or with ice cream and caramel sauce as a dessert.
- 2 cups medium pecan pieces
- 2 ½ cups water
1. Combine pecan pieces and water in a bowl and store overnight in a refrigerator.
2. Remove and put into a food processor. Pour through a strainer into a pitcher.
3. Discard what is left in the strainer, or use in other recipes, like muffins, pancakes or oatmeal.