Baking with Hooch: Substitution Assistance, please!
December 2, 2010 6:43 PM   Subscribe

Tomorrow I will be baking a bread pudding with dried cherries and a meringue topping for my dear friend's birthday dinner. The original recipe calls for bourbon in both pudding and sauce, but she is not a whiskey girl. She has, however, given me the go-ahead to sub in another liquor or liqueur.

Any ideas to what might complement the custard-y, lightly spiced, dark-cherry studded flavor of this bread pudding, not be totally overwhelming, and please a lady who doesn't care for bourbon?

Possibilities I'm considering: brandy, cognac (more specifically), dark rum. My mom suggested amaretto, which might work, but I'm not sure if that will come off as too sweet. I think the point here is to give it a little added flavor and a grown-up kick, not necessarily to pick something overpowering that will bury the other (maybe more subtle) flavors.

Many thanks in advance for your helps, fellow bakers!
posted by anonnymoose to Food & Drink (22 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I'd soak the cherries in Amaretto.
posted by Ideefixe at 6:50 PM on December 2, 2010

Amaretto would very likely overpower everything else. I would say the cognac option would probably work well. You could even consider using Kirsch (cherry brandy), but that might make the cherry-ness a bit overbearing. What about triple sec, which would give a bit of citrus flavor to it?
posted by drmel94 at 6:53 PM on December 2, 2010

I think dark rum would be lovely in this.
posted by Narrative Priorities at 6:54 PM on December 2, 2010 [5 favorites]

yes, triple sec
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 6:57 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Armagnac is an interesting alternative to brandy or cognac.
posted by kcm at 7:01 PM on December 2, 2010

Armagnac and Cognac are both brandies, kcm.

I am a self-appointed Apostle of Armagnac, and think everyone should drink more of it (but not so much the price goes up to where Cognac is, thanks).

But I think rum is the best choice for a bread pudding if you want a dark, full flavor; Triple Sec or another orange-flavored liqueur (Grand Marnier, frex) if you want a brighter flavor.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:04 PM on December 2, 2010

Not blue Curacao, though. Baking with blue Curacao never works properly--something weird happens to the blue coloring and you get weird mottled purplishness that looks like a bruise.
posted by Sidhedevil at 7:05 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

Nthing Triple Sec. Or rum.
posted by goblinbox at 7:09 PM on December 2, 2010

As in, something labelled as Armagnac or Cognac rather than "Brandy". Sorry to not be pedantic enough for you.
posted by kcm at 7:11 PM on December 2, 2010

Triple sec is awfully sweet. Grand Marnier instead?
posted by rtha at 7:14 PM on December 2, 2010

Dry sherry or port might also work, but I'd reach for the brandy first. Spiced rum might also be interesting.
posted by bonehead at 7:15 PM on December 2, 2010

Rum, yes, but an aged rum (something like Bacardi Rum 8 Anos) will have a lot more subtlety and character that I think would replace whiskey.

Unless "character" is what is objectionable about whiskey.
posted by BleachBypass at 7:16 PM on December 2, 2010

From the link:

"I could not help but notice that the delivery of the Bacardi 8 year old rum was very similar to the delivery of a really good whisky."
posted by BleachBypass at 7:18 PM on December 2, 2010 [1 favorite]

I'm not convinced that the subtleties of a good brandy would survive the cooking process. I would go with the cheapest legitimate brandy - i.e. unsweetened, unflavored, distillate of grape wine - I could find. VS cognac is reliable & readily available, and if you don't regularly buy & drink brandy, probably the safest choice.

Bourbon would have more vanilla in it (from the oak barrels), so if you want to approximate the original recipe while avoiding bourbon, you could add a little vanilla extract. Unless her aversion to bourbon is in fact based on a dislike of vanilla - I'm guessing it's got more to do with the heat of the alcohol, and maybe with the idea of "whiskey".
posted by mr vino at 7:18 PM on December 2, 2010

cointreau, if you want a less sweet triple sec/orange liqueur
posted by Rube R. Nekker at 7:18 PM on December 2, 2010

Rum, of the dark variety.
posted by caddis at 7:38 PM on December 2, 2010

What about a lemon liquor, like limoncello? I love lemon to balance cherries. It's super sweet, so reduce the sugar in the recipe.
posted by annsunny at 7:42 PM on December 2, 2010

I would try Kirsch, aka cherry brandy, or a dark rum. Frangelico could be interesting too.
posted by geeky at 8:03 PM on December 2, 2010

Nth-ing dark rum. A sweet liqueur would overwhelm here.
posted by neroli at 8:11 PM on December 2, 2010

Almond and cherry are made for each other. No reason you couldn't use amaretto mixed with rum to cut the sweetness.
posted by Rula Lenska at 9:30 PM on December 2, 2010

Response by poster: Thank you all for your help! I decided to try the dark rum--with a splash of Grand Marnier. I macerated the cherries in the liquor before adding it all. So far, so good, I think! If anyone's interested, memail me for the recipe--I think this one is a winner.
posted by anonnymoose at 10:03 PM on December 2, 2010

Next time, try Tuaca. It is really lovely. I always put a shot of it in my white chocolate cheese cakes.
posted by onhazier at 5:35 AM on December 3, 2010

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