After hearing raves about the white chocolate bread pudding at the Nordstrom Café Bistro in Canoga Park, we had to check it out – three times, actually. Happily, the dessert lives up to the hype. But don’t get in your car just yet and head to the West San Fernando Valley, because the last time we indulged, the server informed us that the Bistro was closing the next day and would re-open in October as a new eatery, Bazille.
Wait, what? No sooner did we discover the perfect antidote to mall fatigue, and it’s gone? We also liked the casual Café Bistro concept: You stand in what is usually a long line, studying the menu while waiting your turn. When you reach the cashier, you order and pay. Then you seat yourself in a plush booth, where a server brings your food.
The new Bazille will be a full-service restaurant with a craft cocktail program and customers’ favorite dishes, says Vincent Rossetti, national restaurant director for Nordstrom. He assures us that the bread pudding will remain on the menu.
You may be asking, what’s so special about this bread pudding? It’s a healthy (probably the wrong word choice) slab of dense, custard-infused construction, standing upright in a pool of white chocolate sauce, with accents of raspberry coulis, fresh raspberries and whipped cream. Shaved white chocolate is the final decadent touch. And yes, it tastes as rich as it sounds. No question, this is a dessert meant for sharing – unless maybe you’re hoping to meet a cute cardiologist.
“Our effort to stay true to the recipe over time, regardless of where it is being prepared, has resulted in a dish that is more than the sum of its parts,” says Rossetti. “We like to think this dish is warm, colorful and unique, and a little bit of a different approach to traditional bread pudding.”
The recipe was the invention of corporate chef Michael Northern, who created it in 2001 for the first Bistro in San Jose. Since then, it's gained the reputation of being the department store’s most popular dessert. Which makes you wonder why it’s not served in every Nordstrom restaurant. Until Bazille opens, the only other spot to find the bread pudding in L.A. County is at the Nordstrom in Cerritos.
For those of you who have no intention of ever driving to Cerritos — or Canoga Park — you can make the bread pudding at home, because Nordstrom shared the recipe with us. (It’s also in their Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook.) Don’t be alarmed when you read that it calls for four cups of heavy cream, six eggs and a dozen egg yolks. After all, it serves 12. Just keep telling yourself that.
Nordstrom White Chocolate Bread Pudding
From: Nordstrom Friends and Family Cookbook
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
4 cups heavy (whipping) cream
2 cups milk
1 cup sugar
3 ½ cups white chocolate morsels
6 large whole eggs, plus 12 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1 24-inch loaf of day-old French bread cut into ½- inch thick slices
1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Brush a 9“x12”x2” baking pan with 2 tablespoons of melted butter. (Save the rest of the melted butter for later.) Line pan bottom with parchment paper.
2. Combine cream, milk and sugar in a saucepan over medium heat, stirring until hot. Remove from heat and add white chocolate morsels, stirring until melted. Set aside to cool slightly.
3. Whisk together whole eggs, egg yolks and vanilla. Gradually drizzle the warm cream mixture into the eggs, whisking until smooth and well blended. (Make sure the cream mixture is not too hot, or the eggs will curdle.)
4. Lay half the bread slices in prepared pan. Pour half the cream mixture over bread and allow it to absorb the liquid. Layer the remaining bread on top and pour the remaining cream mixture over it. Press down the bread until it absorbs the liquid. Cover the pan with foil.
5. Bake for one hour. Uncover and continue baking until the liquid in the center has evaporated and the pudding is golden brown (about another 30 minutes). Transfer the pan to a wire rack. Cool and cut the pudding into six 2”x 3” rectangles, then cut each rectangle into two triangles. If you’re going to serve the dessert right away, then proceed with making the sauces and following the steps below. Otherwise, wrap each triangle in plastic wrap and refrigerate until you’re ready to serve the pudding.
½ cup water
½ cup sugar
2 teaspoons grated orange zest
2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1. Combine water, sugar and orange zest over medium heat until thick and syrupy. Add raspberries, reduce heat to low and cook until fruit falls apart. Let cool and force the sauce through a sieve to remove the seeds. Set aside.
White Chocolate Sauce:
½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
1 cup white chocolate morsels
1. Warm the cream until hot. Remove from heat and add the white chocolate morsels. Stir until melted and smooth.
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter a rimmed baking sheet and place the triangles of pudding onto it, brushing each piece with melted butter. Bake until browned, about 12 minutes.
2. Stand hot pudding triangle on its side. Run a strip of white chocolate sauce across the plate and over the top of the pudding. Pool some raspberry sauce at opposite edges of the plate. Garnish with raspberries and ribbons of white chocolate (you can use a vegetable peeler to cut the ribbons from a chunk of white chocolate.) If desired, put a dollop of fresh, whipped cream on the plate.
3. Refrigerate any pudding and sauce leftovers.