Warm Cherry Bread Pudding
- 24 1/2-inch-thick slices challah or other egg bread (about 24 ounces)
- 2 tablespoons vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups dried tart cherries
- Purchased caramel sauce, heated
Preheat oven to 400°F. Using 3-inch-diameter round cookie cutter, cut round from each bread slice and arrange on baking sheet. Toast bread rounds in oven until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 350°F.
Bring cream, milk, and sugar to simmer in heavy large saucepan, stirring to dissolve sugar. Whisk eggs in large bowl to blend. Gradually whisk hot cream mixture into eggs. Whisk in rum and vanilla.
Butter eight 1 1/4-cup soufflé dishes; arrange on rimmed baking sheet. Place 1 bread round in bottom of each dish. Top each with 1 heaping tablespoon dried cherries. Top cherries in each dish with another bread round. Top each with another heaping tablespoon dried cherries. Top cherries in each dish with third bread slice. Divide custard among dishes, using about 3/4 cup for each. Let stand 30 minutes, pressing down on bread occasionally. DO AHEAD Can be made 4 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate.
Bake bread puddings until tops are puffed and brown, about 35 minutes. Remove from oven; cool 10 minutes. Serve warm with caramel sauce.