Most of my memories of Thanksgiving are a tryptophan–wine induced jumble of turkey meat, pumpkin pies and trying to eat as much mashed potatoes and gravy as humanly possible. As a kid they included sparkling grape juice and old people like grandparents or great aunts and uncles. There was a lot of polite (and incredibly boring) table talk where I would repeat the same answers to questions as every other holiday– “school is good" and “I am blank years old now" blah blah blah. So instead I would focus on how many different foods I could fit onto one forkful at one time to get the most epic turkey dinner bite in history. As an adult, my Thanksgivings are much more enjoyable with just as much bountiful food but also wine, good company and conversation where people almost never ask how old I am. One of my favourite Thanksgivings was when I lived in Mexico for a semester during college. We invited our friends and neighbours over to show them what a Thanksgiving in Canada consisted of. Me and my lovely friend Aly spent a lot of time sourcing out a supermarket that sold frozen turkeys and trying to buy pumpkins without knowing what they were called because it was before Google Translate days. We spent all day Thanksgiving making the turkey, a bunch of side dishes and 2 pumpkin pies from scratch to feed everyone. We drank bottles of Sol with limes throughout the day to keep us going until it was finally ready to serve about 2 hours late, but that was perfect because everything is expected late in Mexico. There was much wine with dinner and even more tequila afterwards. For a reason I don't remember, all the men were wearing bras by the end (indicative of a very good time in college) and the party went into the early hours of the morning.
To quote Andy Bernard from The Office (aka the best show of all time), “I wish there was a way to know you're in the good old days before you've actually left them." I've had so many amazing times with incredible people, and a ton of “good old days" with many more to come I'm sure. That's really what Thanksgiving is about. Being thankful for all you have and the experiences of this sometimes weird, sometimes fun, and sometimes dark thing called life. Sometimes giving thanks feels like all the deep emotions at once for me–love, happiness, gratitude, and sadness for the times gone, but not in a bad way, just in a way where you realize how short life is so we must try enjoy as much as we can.
So Thanksgiving is about gratitude. But it's also about pumpkin! We don't even think about pumpkin for 10 months of the year but during Fall, it's the belle of the ball! For the last 6 weeks, my instagram has been consumed with pumpkin related food and pumpkins themselves. Apparently they come in all colours now! Like baby blue and white... when did this happen?!?!? Are they real? Or are they ghost pumpkins?
Although Thanksgiving here in Canada is in October, I thought I'd dedicate this dish to America. Because right now, with everything that has happened lately, they need some extra love. Which could mean extra pumpkin. And definitely means comfort food which is always bread.
America, we are thinking of you, and we love you. ♥️
Come and visit if you need some time away, okay? We can feed you poutine and rub your back and tell you it's going to be okay. xx
PUMPKIN CHOCOLATE BREAD PUDDING
t h e m a g i c
i n s p i r a t i o n : Thanksgiving + spreading the love
t h e f e e l s : crispy outside, soft comforting insides.
e a t w i t h : whipped cream, vanilla ice cream, custard, some sort of coffee based beverage. (except a pumpkin spice latte. There is a thing as too much.)
m i g h t l i k e i f y o u ' r e i n t o : pumpkin pie, British cuisine, pine scented candles, daily gratitude, Fall nature walks, staying in on cold nights + watching Netflix under a blanket.
t h e s c i e n c e
makes one 9 x 13" baking dish || prep time: 20 minutes || bake time: 25 - 35 minutes
i n g r e d i e n t s :
- 1 loaf of white pullman/sandwich style bread, sliced. (between 12-14 slices, equal to approx. 10 cups when cubed)
- 425 grams of canned pumpkin
- 1 cup of coconut milk (full fat)
- 1/2 cup brown sugar + 2 tbsp (for topping before going into oven)
- 3/4 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
- 1.5 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp fresh nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp ground ginger
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- powdered sugar (for dusting)
- fresh whipped cream (for topping), optional. Substitute coconut based whipped topping or coconut based ice cream to keep vegan.
m e t h o d :
- Make bread stale. It must be stale to make bread pudding so it can absorb liquid better. You can leave it out of the bag for a day or two or you can bake it like I did. To make stale by baking, place oven rack on the top shelf and preheat oven to 375°F. Lay bread on baking sheet. Bake for 5 minutes on each side or until golden and toast-like.
- Turn oven down to 350°F. Grease baking dish with butter or coconut oil. Chop up stale bread into 1-inch cubes and place into baking dish. In a blender, place canned pumpkin, coconut milk, 1/2 cup brown sugar, spices and salt. Blend until a smooth puree. Pour over bread cubes and toss until bread is fully covered. Add chocolate chips and fold through bread mixture.
- Sprinkle the 2 tbsp brown sugar over top the bread pudding evenly. This will help caramelize the top.
- Bake in oven until the top is slightly brown and crisp, between 25-35 minutes. Let bread pudding cool for 10 minutes. Top with powdered sugar if desired. Cut and serve with ice cream, custard or lightly whipped cream (my favourite because it cuts the sweetness and balances the dish). I use a bit of natural vanilla extract and just a bit of maple syrup.
Keep in air tight container in the fridge and reheat in the oven for 8 - 10 minutes before reserving.
*Recipe adapted from NYT Cooking.