Sweet Corn and Bourbon Bread Pudding

Active Time: 45 MINTotal Time2 HR 45 MIN
Yield: Serves : 8 to 9

For this fun, Southern-inspired dessert, Top Chef Season 16 winner Kelsey Barnard Clark uses entire ears of corn—broiling corn kernels and using corn milk from the cobs—to give her bread pudding recipe a summery, fresh-corn flavor. A topping of caramel popcorn adds a sweet crunch and whimsy. Lime zest in the crème anglaise and a splash of bourbon keep it from leaning too sweet.


  • 3 medium ears fresh sweet yellow corn (1 1/2 pound total), shucked
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt, divided
  • 2 cups whole milk, divided
  • 2 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
  • 6 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar, divided
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime zest
  • 6 large eggs, beaten
  • 1 tablespoon (1/2 ounce) bourbon
  • 3 [2-ounce] croissants, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • 4 1/2 ounces crusty French bread, cut into 1-inch pieces (about 3 cups)
  • Caramel popcorn (such as Werther’s), for garnish

How to Make It

Step 1    

Preheat broiler to high with oven rack 6 inches from heat. Cut kernels from corn cobs to equal about 2 cups; reserve cobs. Toss together kernels, canola oil, and 3/4 teaspoon salt on a rimmed baking sheet until kernels are well coated. Spread into a single layer, and broil in preheated oven until beginning to char, 4 to 6 minutes. Set aside.

Step 2    

Using the back of a knife, scrape milk from corn cobs into a small saucepan. Add corn cobs and 1 cup whole milk. Bring to a simmer over medium-low, and cook, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Step 3    

Pour milk mixture through a fine wire-mesh strainer into a bowl. Scrape cooked cobs with a spoon to release milk; discard cobs and other solids. Add 1 1/2 cups heavy cream and 1/4 teaspoon salt to bowl. Transfer milk mixture to saucepan, and bring to a simmer over medium-low. Meanwhile, whisk together egg yolks, 1/2 cup sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon vanilla in a medium bowl. Gradually add two-thirds of the simmering milk mixture to egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly, until incorporated.

Step 4    

Stir egg yolk–milk mixture into remaining milk mixture in saucepan. Reduce heat to low, and cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and coats the back of a spoon, about 12 minutes. Transfer crème anglaise to a medium bowl, and stir in lime zest. Press plastic wrap directly on surface, and cool completely, about 2 hours. Set aside. (Cooled crème anglaise can be chilled up to 1 day. To reheat, transfer to a small saucepan, and heat over low, stirring constantly, until just warm, 2 to 3 minutes.)

Step Step 5    

Preheat oven to 325°F. Whisk together eggs, bourbon, remaining 1 cup heavy cream, remaining 1 cup milk, remaining 1/4 cup sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon vanilla, and remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a medium bowl. Toss together croissants, French bread, and roasted corn in a large bowl. Add bourbon-cream mixture to bread mixture, and stir to combine. Let stand at room temperature 30 to 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Step 6    

Pour bread mixture into a lightly greased 9-inch square baking pan, and spread in an even layer. Bake at 325°F until set and lightly browned, 35 to 40 minutes. Transfer pan to a wire rack, and let cool 30 minutes before slicing. Cut bread pudding into squares; serve with crème anglaise, and garnish with caramel popcorn.

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