Blueberry & Cream Cheese Croissant Pudding
You will need to slice the croissants horizontally in half and allow them to dry out for a day. Doing this assures that they soak up all the liquid which is an essential part of making any bread pudding. You also will need to make this the evening before so it has a chance to fully soak up all the liquid. I made these in 6.5" Lodge Cast iron skillets, which I have used to make individual pot pies in as well. They cost around $11 for one, and I have found many uses for them.
4 croissants (roughly 5" size), sliced and dried
1 - 8 oz package cream cheese
1 - 16 oz. can blueberries in syrup, drained
2 1/2 cups half & half
1 cup sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla bean paste
To make the custard, place in a blender the half & half, eggs, sugar and vanilla bean paste. Blend until thoroughly combined. Set aside.
In each skillet, place the bottom half of each croissant. Take brick of cream cheese and divide in four using sharp knife, then cut each fourth into three and lay on top of croissant bottom half. Repeat with other three croissants. Using a spoon, divide drained blueberries by placing them gently on top of cream cheese. Place top half of croissant over the blueberries and gently pour 1/4 of the custard mix over the top. This amount is roughly 1.5 cups - I poured this amount into a 2-cup liquid measuring cup, which I then poured over each croissant.
I wrapped each skillet with plastic wrap and placed on a silpat-lined baking sheet. I then placed this in the refrigerator with another baking sheet on top of it, weighted with some canned goods to press the tops of the croissants into the custard. It does not need to be heavily weighted, just enough to press it down.
The next morning I remove it from the refrigerator a half hour before I want to bake it to take the chill off - this allows the puddings to bake more evenly and quickly. You may see some of the custard having overflowed into the baking sheet, and you also may notice that the custard has not fully absorbed - do not worry about this, it will all bake together. I remove the top baking sheet and the plastic wrap from around each skillet. I then take four pieces of aluminum foil and place it on top of each skillet, sealing the edges so the pudding 'steam bakes' initially - we will be removing it during the last part of baking to brown them.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees and place the aluminum-foil, covered puddings into the oven and bake for 30 minutes. At this point, you will remove the aluminum foil and place them back into the oven for 10-15 more minutes depending on your oven. Serve immediately as they will begin to deflate - note: they are very hot, so take care in eating them initially. Yum!