Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Overnight Baked Panettone Casserole with Cinnamon Drizzle

This is not a baking blog, let's just get that straight. But every now and then I come across a recipe that I tweak a bit and it really works and I just can't help but share it. 

So every year our awesome neighbors bring us a fresh Panettone from a local bakery. I think the first year, without knowing what it really was, I was like "doesn't everyone hate fruitcake?" I remember the gummy loaves with candied fruit my relatives used to bring over as a child and I was like NO WAY. And I always see Panettone in places like World Market or even Costco, and I just could never imagine that it was any good. But fresh from the bakery Panettone, ladies and gents, is not at all a "fruit cake" or stale loaf of something-or-other. It may have candied fruit such as orange, lemon zest and raisins in it, but its a million times more delightful. This is a delicacy, a sweet bread infused with punchy little gems. 

So upon my discovery the first year, I tore off a chunk, slathered it with butter and was pleasantly surprised. It reminded me of a fluffy bread/croissant hybrid, not overly sweet. But the loaf was huge, I knew we couldn't possibly eat it all by the slice! So I thought and thought and decided that the rest would make excellent French Toast Casserole or Bread Pudding. And why not make it easy and do an overnight type dish for Christmas morning. I searched online and started mixing and matching, and behold, a Christmas staple for our family... 

Overnight Baked Panettone Casserole with Cinnamon Drizzle

1 cup water
1 cup brown sugar
2 tbsp whipping cream
1/2 tsp cinnamon

Combine water and sugar in saucepan.
Bring to boil over high heat, stirring consistently until sugar dissolves.
Boil until reduced to 1 cup (10 ish minutes).
Remove from heat and whisk in cream and cinnamon. 
Keep syrup warm if serving immediately or cool completely, then refrigerate for the next morning. Rewarm before serving.

1 large panettone (about 2 pounds)
3 1/2 cups half/half
6 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Cut or tear Panettone into small pieces and layer into a greased baking dish (I always use my Le Creuset Heritage Casserole dish and its glazing is pretty much non-stick, no extra grease neccessary).
Whisk together half/half, eggs, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and salt in a bowl.
Pour mixture evenly over the Panettone in a dish.
Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for at least 6 hours, I do overnight.

Preheat to 350 F
Remove plastic and rotate any pieces that didn't absorb mixutre overnight.
Bake until custard is set and pieces are golden brown, 1:15-1:30. (Center should be firm, not wiggly).
If browning too quickly, cover with lid or aluminum foil.
Remove and let set at least 10 minutes.
Slice, drizzle sauce and serve.

Much of this is combined from Giada's recipes which can be found on the Food Network. I combined about 2 of her recipes and elements from other different recipes and added our own flair. You can also add some flair by:

  • Adding Sauteed Apples or other Fruits
  • Adding Eggnog
  • Using Sliced Almonds and Powdered Sugar instead of Sauce
  • Layering Cream Cheese between Slices
  • Using Additional Spices: Nutmeg, etc

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