Desserts, Holidays
comment 1

Merry to You (and a slice of sticky toffee bread pudding)

Merry to you.

This was the subject line of a simple email my mom received from her father two years ago.  2011 was the first time in over 50 years that my mother would not be spending Christmas with her father.

My parents were living in London that year and had flown my sister, her boyfriend, and my husband and I across the pond to spend the holidays with them.

Three days before Christmas, with a simple “ping” sound, “Merry to you” appeared in her inbox.  After reading it, she forwarded it to me and I silently cried in my cubicle during my last day at work before we flew out of Chicago.

The email was a collection of thoughts and memories of their relationship and holidays shared over many decades and how 2011 would be the first Christmas apart.  One small paragraph really struck a cord with me that day.  Enough so that I printed the email to forever keep it:

Then as I usually do, I’ll play the last of the Christmas music – by myself – and thank the Good Lord for blessing me with such a wonderful family – wife, kids, spouses & grandchildren (and all those other cousins, etc).  The world could not be any better at that moment.

I could picture him sitting in his armchair next to a crackling fire.  His well-worn tan slippers on his feet, listening to soft Christmas music playing in the background.  Light, powdery snowflakes fall outside the window and he quietly soaks in the moment and counts his blessings.

That email and his words mean more to my family than any gift ever wrapped under a tree.

I oftentimes think that we’re quick to take moments, experiences, and people for granted when they make up the routine of our everyday.  This is one of the reasons I’m so thankful for the Christmas spirit.  It’s a time to stop, reflect, give thanks and be grateful for our friends, family, and another year with them all.

Like many of you out there, food is a binder that brings people together and can be a wonderful vessel to show your love and care.  This Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding is a nod to our British Christmas and the homey, warm flavors of the holiday season.

Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Whether you have a scoop of this bread pudding, a leftover Christmas cookie, or just a cup of coffee, pause and take a moment.  Enjoy some quiet solitude.  Listen to the last of the Christmas music.  Smile and give thanks for all that we have and all those we hold dear.

Merry Christmas to you and yours.

See you in 2014!

P.S. Sorry for the mush fest, it’s what the holidays do to me!

Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding // Peanut Butter & Dill Pickles Blog

Sticky Toffee Bread Pudding


  • Pudding:
  • 10 c. 1" cubes stale challah bread (left out overnight to dry out)
  • 1 c. chopped dates
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 c. sugar
  • 2 c. cream
  • 1 c. half & half
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • Toffee Sauce:
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • 1 c. cream
  • 1 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1 tsp. vanilla


  1. To Make the Pudding:
  2. Preheat oven to 300°.
  3. Combine the bread and dates in a large mixing bowl and pour into a greased 9x13 pan. Place the pan into a large roasting pan and set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, beat the eggs, sugar, cream, half & half, and vanilla until combined. Pour over the bread and the dates.
  5. Pour hot water into the roasting pan until it reaches half way up the sides of the 9x13.. Be careful not to get any water in the bread pudding.
  6. Place the roasting pan in the oven and bake for 60-70 minutes or until the custard is set.
  7. Allow the pudding to cool for 10-15 minutes. Pour half the toffee sauce over the top of the pudding, reserving the rest to serve on the side.
  8. To Make the Toffee Sauce:
  9. While the pudding is baking, combine all toffee sauce ingredients (butter through vanilla) in a medium saucepan. Heat over medium-low heat until the butter is melted and all ingredients have combined. Simmer gently until thickened, about 8-10 minutes.

Note: After pouring the sauce over the pudding, you can throw it back in the oven under the broiler for 2-3 minutes or until the toffee sauces bubbles and gets even stickier!

Why Bake in a Water Bath?
By placing the bread pudding in a roasting pan with water, you create a gentle environment for the pudding to bake. The custard and bread will stay moist and cook without browning or burning on the edges. Be careful transferring in and out of the oven!

Filed under: Desserts, Holidays


Writer of recipes. Storyteller with a food twist. Sarcasm/humor served on the side.

1 Comment

  1. Hey, nothing like a mush fest as the perfect accompaniment to a holiday recipe! Loved your story (and recipe). Merry Christmas to you!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.