Apple and Dried Cherry Custard Bread Pudding
['2 1/2 cups whipping cream', '6 large eggs', '2 large egg yolks', '1/2 cup sugar', '1 teaspoon ground cinnamon', '1/4 teaspoon salt', '1 (16- to 17-ounce) loaf old-fashioned white bread, unsliced, crust trimmed, bread cut into 1 1/2-inch cubes', '2 3/4 pounds Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored, each cut into 8 wedges', '1 cup dried tart cherries', '1 cup Armagnac or brandy', '1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided', '1/2 cup (packed) dark brown sugar', '1/8 teaspoon salt', '1 cup applesauce', '1/2 cup toffee bits (such as Skor or Heath)', '1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds']
Preheat oven to 375°F. Blend first 6 ingredients in large bowl. Add bread; toss. Let soak 1 hour, tossing occasionally.
Meanwhile, butter 12-inch-diameter ovenproof skillet with 2 1/2-inch-high sides. Arrange apple wedges in concentric circles in skillet, covering completely. Cover with foil; bake 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, combine cherries and Armagnac in small saucepan. Simmer over medium heat 3 minutes. Remove from heat. Combine 1/2 cup butter, sugar, and salt in medium saucepan and stir over medium-high heat until caramel is smooth, about 2 minutes. Whisk Armagnac from cherries into caramel. Whisk applesauce into caramel. Pour over apples; cover skillet with foil again. Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle cherries over; top with bread mixture. Cover skillet with foil; place on rimmed baking sheet. Bake 20 minutes. Sprinkle with toffee bits and almonds. Dot with remaining 2 tablespoons butter. Bake uncovered until top is deep brown and puffed, about 20 minutes. Serve warm.
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