Originally the country cook's solution for using up stale bread as well as cream and eggs, bread pudding is now considered an elegant dessert. This rich version is accented with pecans and accompanied with bourbon sauce.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Butter an 8-inch square baking pan.
MAKE THE PUDDING: In a small bowl, combine the pecans, sugar, butter, vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg. In a large bowl, beat the eggs until frothy. Add the pecan mixture and blend well. Stir in the milk and raisins.
Place the bread cubes in the prepared pan. Pour the egg mixture over them and toss gently until the bread is soaked. Let the pudding sit until the bread has absorbed nearly all the liquid, about 35 minutes. Stir the mixture once or twice to moisten the bread evenly.
Meanwhile, MAKE THE TOPPING: In a small bowl, combine the pecans, sugar, and cinnamon. Set aside.
Bake the pudding for 25 minutes. Sprinkle the pecan topping over the pudding and continue baking for another 10 minutes, or until the pudding is set and the topping is browned.
Meanwhile, MAKE THE BOURBON SAUCE: In a small saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the sugar and cornstarch, and cook, stirring, until dissolved. Whisk in the cream and vanilla, and continue cooking, stirring, until sauce thickens slightly, 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in the bourbon and cook, stirring, for another 30 seconds. Remove the sauce from the heat and let it cool slightly.
To serve, spoon the pudding out on plates, then ladle a bit of the bourbon sauce over each serving.
NOTE: To toast the pecans, place them on an ungreased cookie sheet in a preheated 375 degree oven for 10 minutes, or until golden.