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Five Eighteen West Banana Brioche Bread Pudding

1 1/2 (1-pound) loaves day-old brioche
2 C. half-and-half
1 1/2 C. sugar
1/2 t. cinnamon
1 T. melted butter
3 eggs
1 t. vanilla

Banana mixture:
1/2 T. butter, room temperature
1/2 C. sugar
3 ripe bananas, sliced

Ice cream
Caramel sauce
Toasted walnuts

Preheat oven to 350 F. Grease an (8- by 8-inch) baking pan. Line bottom of the pan with parchment paper and grease the paper.

Brioche: Trim crusts from brioche, and cut loaves into 1-inch cubes. Discard crusts and place cubes in a large bowl. Pour half-and-half over the brioche cubes and let soak for 5 minutes.

In another bowl, combine sugar with cinnamon, melted butter, eggs and vanilla. Add brioche cubes to this mixture and toss to mix well. Set aside.

Banana mixture: In a saute pan over medium-low heat, combine butter and sugar. Cook, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes until sugar has melted and caramelized. Toss in bananas and remove from heat.

Assembly: Place half the brioche mixture in the bottom of the prepared baking pan. Spread banana mixture over this layer, then top with remaining brioche mixture. Place pan in a larger baking pan and fill the outer pan with enough water to come halfway up the sides of the inner. Bake for 25 to 30 minutes, just until set. Let cool before slicing.

Garnish: If desired, serve each slice with a scoop of ice cream. Garnish with caramel sauce and toasted walnuts.

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