Notes: A soft, mildly sweet bread such as challah could be used. You can assemble this dish through step 3 up to 1 day ahead; chill.
8 ounces Hawaiian or Portuguese sweet bread (a loaf or dinner rolls; see notes)
1 package (8 oz.) neufchâtel (light cream) cheese or cream cheese, at room temperature
1 3/4 cups coconut or maple syrup
10 large eggs
1 can (14 oz.) coconut milk
2 teaspoons grated orange peel
1 cup orange juice
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
3/4 cup sweetened shredded or flaked dried coconut
1/3 cup chopped roasted, salted macadamia nuts
How to Make It
Tear the bread into 1/2-inch chunks. In a food processor, whirl the chunks into coarse crumbs (or finely chop with a knife); you should have about 1 quart. Pour into a buttered 3-quart shallow casserole; spread level.
In food processor, whirl cheese and 1/4 cup syrup until blended; or in a bowl, with a mixer on medium speed, beat until blended. Spoon evenly over bread (it doesn't need to cover bread completely).
In a bowl, whisk eggs to blend with 1/2 cup syrup, coconut milk, orange peel, orange juice, and nutmeg. Pour evenly over cheese mixture and bread. Cover casserole; chill at least 2 hours.
Bake, uncovered, in a 350° regular or 325° convection oven until center barely jiggles when casserole is gently shaken, 40 to 50 minutes. Sprinkle top evenly with coconut and nuts; continue baking until coconut is lightly browned, 7 to 9 minutes.
Heat remaining 1 cup syrup in a microwave-safe pitcher in a microwave oven at full power (100%) until warm, about 40 seconds. Serve pudding at once. Add syrup to taste.