In this Caramelized Brioche dessert, a loaf of brioche is cut into bricks, soaked in butter and sweetened condensed milk, then topped with brown sugar and caramelized. It is soft and custardy in the middle, yet crunchy and caramelized on the outside.
Caramelized Brioche is similar to Pain Perdu, a custardy French version of French toast. However, this is made with sweetened condensed milk. It is so sweet and decadent it is only meant for dessert.
Soaking the brioche in sweetened condensed milk and butter results in a flavor and texture that is quite different from your typical sweet dessert. It's both creamy and custardy, crunchy and caramelized.
It also feels pretty elevated. Despite the long list of steps in the directions, it is easy to throw together. It requires very few ingredients or expertise. You’re only cutting up the brioche and soaking it in butter and sweetened condensed milk. Then after baking for 20 minutes topping with brown sugar and broiling for a few minutes.
Recipe Inspiration: Sonoma , CA
We had this dessert while traveling in Sonoma at a really nice restaurant, Valette, in a small foodie town called Healdsburg, CA. When it came time to have dessert, this one was not on our radar because it was labeled, “Bread, Butter and Jam”. Having bread, butter, and jam for dessert was not something that sounded up our alley so we skipped right over it.
Our server, however, informed us that it was the most popular dessert and highly recommended it, which I’m so glad that he did! It was SO good! And it was made even better by spreading ice cream over the top of the sweet bread and letting it melt in.
I asked the server how it was made and immediately went home and tried it myself. Then I spent weeks simplifying it and making sure to get it just right.
Brioche vs. Challah Bread
In this dessert, you can use either brioche or challah bread. While both brioche and challah bread are slightly sweet, brioche is a tad sweeter, and a slightly better fit for this dessert.
Brioche tends to be made in large brick like loaves, which makes it easier to cut into smaller "brick" shapes for the dessert. If using challah bread, it will be harder to cut into uniformly shaped "bricks". You'll end up with more scraps - which might be just fine as they are great to snack on.
I've made this several times with both brioche and challah bread and they are both fantastic, but given the choice, go with brioche.
The bricks of brioche are soaked in a mixture of melted butter and sweetened condensed milk. It is best when you can soak the bread overnight. It becomes creamier and softer in the middle. However, if you're in a pinch or just can't wait, soak it for an hour before baking it.
What to Serve with Caramelized Brioche
This caramelized brioche is excellent with a scoop of ice cream. I'd recommend either a really good vanilla or a salted caramel ice cream. Spoon it over the top of the caramelized brick of brioche and allow the ice cream to melt into the bread slightly.
It is also great with a little bit of raspberry or strawberry jam. Or serve it with both ice cream and jam!
Tips for Making Caramelized Brioche
- When caramelizing the brown sugar under the broiler watch carefully so that it does not burn.
- You can cut the brioche into any size, but I cut it into good sized bricks. If you cut it into a different size you may need to adjust the soaking and baking times. Be sure to keep the pieces uniform in size so that they all bake at the same rate.
- The bread scraps are great to snack on or give to kids as a snack.
If you're looking for other dessert recipes, you may love these:
Crispy Salted Caramel Cookies: crispy on the outside, soft, gooey, with a puddle of caramel on the inside.
Frozen Salted Caramel Mousse Cake: a cake with three layers: waffle cookie crust, salted caramel mousse, and a white chocolate mousse.
Small Batch Crispy Chocolate Chip Cookies: makes 12 cookies, crispy ripples on the outside, chewy in the middle.
If you make this Caramelized Brioche recipe, I'd love to hear from you and learn how it went. Leave a rating and a comment down below and let me know how it turns out! Your feedback means a lot!
- 1 loaf Brioche
- ½ cup butter (1 stick)
- 1 14oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 2 tbsp brown sugar
- powdered sugar optional
- raspberry jam optional
- vanilla or caramel ice cream optional
- Using a bread knife, carefully remove outer crust from the brioche.
- Cut into bricks about 2-3 inches long, 1 ½ inches wide, and 2 inches high. The exact size of the brick doesn't matter. You just don't want it too small or they may burn in the oven. You'll also just have to work with whatever size brioche you can find at the store.
- Place the brioche bricks in a single layer in a square baking dish.
- Melt the butter in a glass measuring pitcher. Pour the butter over the brioche bricks in the baking dish. Then pour the can of sweetened condensed milk over the bricks. Using a butter knife gently nudge the bricks around so that the sweetened condensed milk gets in between the brioche so it can soak up all the milk. Let sit for one hour, or preferably overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Remove the brioche bricks from the square baking dish. Allow excess liquid to drip off and place on a baking sheet. Bake for 20 minutes.
- Remove from the oven and sprinkle brown sugar on top. Dab the brown sugar tops with water and lightly dissolve the brown sugar.
- Preheat the oven to a low broil. Broil on the middle rack for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Watch carefully so it does not burn.
- Remove from the oven and immediately remove from the sheet pan. If you wait until it cools, the excess liquid will harden on the pan and become much more difficult to remove. You can cut off any extra condensed milk that melted onto the pan/brioche before serving.
- Dust with powdered sugar and serve with jam and a scoop of ice cream (optional). If serving with ice cream, spoon the ice cream over the brioche so that it starts to melt in – yum!