I mentioned the other day that I was making the appetizer, main course, and dessert in slow cookers for my friend's birthday celebration. The meal was a success, so of course, I have to share the recipes with you.
For the appetizer, I'll just direct you to A Year of CrockPotting , where I got the recipe for White Bean and Pesto Spread. I followed Steph's suggestion and served it with crostini - it was a better match than the pita chips I also served.
For dessert, I adapted Steph's CrockPot French Toast Bake. I made the original version a couple of weeks ago and enjoyed it, but found it to be more like bread pudding. So it seemed natural to turn the recipe into a dessert. Steph is right about needing a 6-quart slow cooker for this recipe because of the bread expanding as it absorbs the custard. I borrowed my mother-in-law's slow cooker, since I only have my beloved 4-quart West Bend.
Slow Cooker Chocolate Chip Bread Pudding
Serves at least 8
nonstick cooking spray
one pound egg or cinnamon raisin bread, cut into 1-inch cubes*
1/2 cup chocolate chips
1/4 cup raisins, optional
1/4 cup toasted slivered almonds or your favorite nut chopped
2 teaspoons vanilla
4 cups milk**
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 cup sugar
powdered sugar and caramel sauce for garnish, optional
1. Coat the inside of the crock with nonstick cooking spray. Cover the bottom of the crock with half of the bread, sprinkle with two tablespoons of chocolate chips, one tablespoon of raisins, and one tablespoon of nuts. Repeat.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, vanilla, milk, salt, cinnamon and sugar. Pour the mixture over the layers of bread. Do not stir.***
3. Cook on low for 6 to 8 hours. The bread pudding is done when all of the liquid has been absorbed, the egg is cooked through, and the bread starts to pull away from the walls of the crock.
4. Spoon a serving onto a plate and if desired, sprinkle powdered sugar and drizzle caramel sauce over the top.
*For the French toast version, I saved the heels of seven loaves of cinnamon raisin bread in the freezer, knowing that I would eventually use them for something. If you do use heels, I recommend turning most of the pieces so the cut end is facing up, just for the prettiest presentation.
**Steph used 3 cups of soy milk and 1 cup of heavy cream; I used 2 cups of soy milk and 2 cups of 2% milk the first time and 2 cups of soy milk and 2 cups of half & half the second time. Each version came out just fine.
***For the bread pudding version, since it was going to cook during the day instead of overnight, I prepped through step 2 (pouring the custard) the night before and parked the crock in the fridge overnight. It came out a little bit moister than the French toast version.