This is best served only slightly warm or at room temperature with its topping of ice cream and caramel sauce. The Fort Lauderdale restaurant says this recipe serves eight people, but we think it makes 12 home portions (fewer calories).
1 cup milk
1 quart heavy cream
1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon
pure vanilla extract
2 1/4 cups plus 1/3 cup sugar,
for dusting the pan
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 large egg
5 large egg yolks
11 cups (1-inch) cubes croissants*
2/3 cup semisweet chocolate chips
2/3 cup seedless golden raisins
2/3 cup pecan pieces
Topping and Garnish
1/3 cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 pint vanilla ice cream
1 cup caramel sauce (we used Hershey’s Classic Caramel Sundae Syrup)
To make pudding
In a mixing bowl, whisk together the milk, cream, vanilla, 2 1/4 cups sugar, salt, egg and egg yolks. Continue whisking until the ingredients are thoroughly mixed and the sugar dissolves completely (this is important).
Place the croissant cubes in a large mixing bowl and pour the egg mixture over them. Use your hands or a large spoon to toss the croissants until they are thoroughly moistened. Let the mixture sit at room temperature about 45 minutes until the bread is completely saturated, mixing thoroughly but gently twice during the sitting time.
Add the chocolate chips, raisins and pecans, mixing thoroughly but gently.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 13-by-9-by-2-inch baking pan with no-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with about 1/3 cup sugar and swirl the pan so the sugar coats the bottom and up the sides. Pour out any excess sugar.
Carefully ladle the thick pudding mixture evenly into the prepared pan. Do not press down on the bread.
To make topping: Combine the sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle cinnamon mixture evenly over the top of the pudding. Bake in the center of the oven 45 to 50 minutes, rotating the pan once to ensure even baking, until the pudding is puffed, feels firm and is a light brown.
Remove to a wire rack and let cool before serving. (The pudding will sink slightly as it cools.)
Can be served slightly warm or at room temperature.
Top each serving with about 1/4 cup vanilla ice cream and 2 tablespoons caramel sauce. Makes 12 servings.
*We used 13 croissants that measured about 5 1/2 inches long, 2 1/2 inches across and 1 3/4 inches high at the center.