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Warm Bartlett Pear Bread Pudding

2 2/3 cups sugar, divided
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
4 large Bartlett pears, cored and sliced
10 large croissants, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup melted unsalted butter
2 1/4 cups each: whole milk and whipping cream
15 eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp vanilla extract
Pear Brandy Sauce (recipe follows)
Powdered sugar (optional)

Mix 2/3 cup sugar and cinnamon. Toss 2 tablespoons cinnamon-sugar
mixture with pears and set aside. Brush exposed sides of croissants
with melted butter and sprinkle liberally with remaining cinnamon
sugar. Arrange on baking sheet, cut side up, and bake 5 to 7
minutes or until golden brown. Cool at least 5 minutes.

Butter sides and bottom of a 13 by 9 by 2 inch (we found 15x10x2
was a better fit) glass baking dish; set aside. Combine milk,
cream, eggs, remaining 2 cups sugar and vanilla in mixing bowl and
beat until smooth. Place one layer of croissants, buttered side
up, in glass dish. Arrange layer of pear slices on top. Repeat
layers, ending with croissants. Pour egg mixture over all. Cover
with foil and refrigerate overnight.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place pudding pan with foil cover in
larger pan of cold water on lower shelf in oven. Bake at 350
degrees 2 to 2 1/2 hours or until sharp knife inserted in center
comes out clean.


Pear Brandy Sauce

1/2 cup unsalted butter
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 cup heavy (whipping) cream
2 eggs, lightly beaten
2 tablespoons pear brandy (optional)

Melt butter and brown sugar in heavy saucepan over medium heat,
stirring until well mixed and smooth. Remove from heat; cool
slightly. Stir in cream, then stir hot mixture into beaten eggs.
Return all to pan and heat just to boiling (but do not allow to
boil), beating vigorously all the while. Remove from heat and stir
in brandy.

To serve, cut bread pudding into 12 squares and serve warm topped
with Pear Brandy Sauce. Dust entire plate with powdered sugar for
added effect if desired.

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