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Capirotada (Mexican Bread Pudding

(from Dallas Morning News, Aug. 15, 2001, interview with Susan Feniger and Mary Sue Milliken)

Martin saves the day with this recipe which he calls "Belle Melange"

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 load French bread or baguette, with crust, cut into small cubes
1 pound brown sugar
1 1/2 cups water
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
2 large Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and chopped
1 cup walnuts chopped
1/2 pound cream cheese, chilled and chopped
Crema (recipe follows) or heavy cream for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Butter a 13x 9 inch glass casserole dish.

Melt butter in a medium saucepan, add the bread cubes and stir to coat evenly. Spread the cubes on a baking sheet and bake 15 minutes or until lightly brown and crisp. Remove the bread and turn the oven temperature up to 400 F.

Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat. Stir in the cinnamon and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the apples, walnuts, cream cheese and toasted bread cubes. Drizzle with the sugar syrup and mix to evenly distribute. Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan.

Bake, uncovered, stirring occasionally for 15 minutes. Then bake an additional 5 minutes without stirring, until the top is golden brown and crusty and the liquid is almost gone.

Serve warm with pitchers of crema or heavy cream for adding at the table. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

Crema: Wish 2 cups heavy cream and 1/2 cup buttermilk together. Cover and set in a warm place (a gas oven with just the heat from the pilot light if fine) for 8 hours. Crema may be kept in the refrigerator as long as a week.

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