A bit more than a year actually. The teal-colored grande dame of Garden District restaurants closed in August 2005 as Hurricane Katrina headed toward the city. After 13 months of repairs and a $5 million renovation, Commander's reopened to its adoring public Sunday morning. - The Times Picayune
3/4 cups Sugar
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
Pinch of Nutmeg
3 Medium Eggs
1 cup Heavy Cream
1 tsp. Vanilla
5 cups New Orleans French Bread, 1" cubed (see note)
1/3 cup Raisins
(18: in length or approximately 1 1/3 G/ sliced thin)
1 cup Heavy Cream
1/2 Tbsp. Corn Starch
1 Tbsp. Water
3 Tbsp. Sugar
1/4 cup Bourbon
9 Medium Egg Whites
3/4 cups Sugar
1/4 tsp. Cream of Tartar
To make the bread pudding, first preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease 8" square baking pan. Combine sugar, cinnamon, and nutmeg in a large bowl. Beat in the eggs until smooth, then work in the heavy cream. Add the vanilla, then the bread cubes. Allow bread to soak up custard.
Place the raisins in a greased pan. Top with the egg mixture, which prevents the raisins from burning. Bake for approximately 25-30 minutes or until the pudding has a golden brown color and is firm to the touch. If a toothpick inserted in the pudding comes out clean, it is done. The mixture of pudding should be nice and moist, not runny or dry. Cool to room temperature.
To make the whiskey sauce, place the cream in a small saucepan over medium heat, and bring to a boil. Whisk corn starch and water together, and add to cream while whisking. Bring to a boil. Whisk and let simmer for a few seconds, taking care not to burn the mixture on the bottom. Remove from heat.
Stir in the sugar and the bourbon. Taste to make sure the sauce has a thick consistency, a sufficiently sweet taste, and a good bourbon flavor. Cool to room temperature.
To make the meringue, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter six 6 ounce ramekins. First, be certain that the bowl and whisk are clean. The egg whites should be completely free of yolk, and they will whip better if the chill is off them. This dish needs a good, stiff meringue. In a large bowl or mixer, whip egg whites and cream of tartar until foamy. Add the sugar gradually, and continue whipping until shiny and thick. Test with a clean spoon. If the whites stand up stiff, like shaving cream, when you pull out the spoon, the meringue is ready. Do not overwhip, or the whites will break down and the soufflé will not work.
In a large bowl, break half the bread pudding into pieces using your hands or a spoon. Gently fold in one-quarter of the meringue, being careful not to lose the air in the whites. Add a portion of this base to each of the ramekins.
Place the remaining bread pudding in the bowl, break into pieces, and carefully fold in the rest of the meringue. Top off the soufflés with this lighter mixture, to about 1 1/2 inches. Smooth and shape tops with spoon into a dome over the ramekin rim. Bake immediately for approximately 20 minutes or until golden brown. Serve immediately. Using a spoon, poke a hole in the top of each soufflé, at the table, and pour the room temperature whiskey sauce inside the soufflé.
Note: New Orleans French bread is very light and tender. If substitute bread is used that is too dense, it will soak up all the custard and the recipe will not work.