Apple Cranberry Croissant Bread Pudding
2 Tablespoons butter, melted
5 large eggs
1/2 cup firmly packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
1/4 teaspoon allspice
a few cracks black pepper
2 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/4 cup pure maple syrup or rum
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1 large apple, peeled and cored, cut into 16 wedges
1 Tablespoon granulated sugar
1 Tablespoon flour
8 large stale croissants
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup sliced almonds
2 Tablespoons granulated sugar
Butter the insert of a Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 6 Quart Programmable Slow Cooker heavily with the melted butter.
In a bowl, whisk the eggs, brown sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, allspice and pepper until frothy.
Combine the cream, maple syrup/rum, vanilla and a pinch of salt in a saucepan and place over medium heat just until it boils. Pour 1/2 cup of the cream into the eggs, whisking well, then transfer the egg mixture into the saucepan with the cream. Return to medium-low heat and stir continuously with a wooden spoon until the custard thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon thinly. Set aside.
Mix the apple wedges with the tablespoon of sugar and flour.
Slice each croissant lengthwise as though you were making a sandwich. Layer four of the croissants in the slow cooker, and tuck half of the apple slices into the parts where two pieces of croissant overlap each other. Pour half of the custard mixture over the croissants. Sprinkle half of the cranberries onto the first croissant layer. Repeat with the remaining croissants, apples, custard and cranberries - making sure to cover all of the croissants with custard.
Press down lightly on the croissants to make sure they are evenly soaked through.
Sprinkle the almonds over top, then the two tablespoons of granulated sugar.
Place a piece of paper towel between the opening of the slow cooker and the lid, to catch the condensation from the lid as it cooks.
Cook on the low setting for 3 hours.
Optional: To toast the almonds and create a browned, crunchy top layer, loosen the sides of the pudding with a spatula and then carefully invert onto a tray. Flip it right side up onto a baking sheet, turn the oven broiler on low and toast just until the almonds are golden.