Last night I enjoyed another amazing Girls' Night In with Bonnie and Dawn for our cooking adventure. The theme for the evening was Breakfast for Dinner. Yeah, it really was that good! I am going to do things a little differently and share each of our recipes in three different posts. I have Dawn's Aunt already awaiting this recipe (Hi there!) and still need to gather up the recipes from the other girls. So stay tuned, Bonnie's Quiche and Dawn's Dessert are both worth the wait!! Yumm!
I apologize that the picture quality isn't so great. I forgot my own camera, but luckily Dawn's sister Michelle came through and let me use hers. I didn't know all her camera's bells and whistles, plus the fact that I was really hungry and just wanted to gobble everything up immediately! (Ok, ok... so this was probably the real reason...) But you get the idea. And you can just trust me- This. Meal. Is. Delicious. Heaven, really. It is rich, decadent, and truly a special dish. This would be a perfect thing to make for a nice brunch or a holiday gathering with family and friends.
Oven-Baked French Toast with Praline Crunch Topping
1 loaf of french bread
1/2 stick (1/4 cup) unsalted butter or margarine, softened**
3 large eggs
1 2/3 cups half and half or whole milk (I used fat free half and half. This stuff is amazing. Tastes just like the full fat stuff but is fat free!)
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
3 tablespoons sugar (or praline crunch topping, recipe follows below)
Slice the bread into 10-12 (1-inch-thick) diagonal slices, set the ends aside for another use.
Generously butter 1 side of each slice and arrange slices, buttered sides up, in 1 layer in a buttered 13x9 glass baking dish, squishing them slightly to fit if necessary. (**If you are baking this with the praline crunch topping it is not necessary to butter the bread ahead of time. Just skip this step and jump ahead)
Whisk together eggs, milk, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla until combined well. Pour evenly over bread. Chill, covered, until bread has absorbed all of custard, at least 1 hour and up to 1 day, depending on bread.
Preheat oven to 425°F.
Bring mixture to room temperature and sprinkle bread with the sugar or spread with the praline topping (recipe follows). Bake, uncovered, in middle of oven until bread is puffed and top is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Serve immediately.
Praline Crunch Topping
1 stick of butter, softened
1/2 cup packed brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
1 tablespoon maple syrup
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
Combine all ingredients and blend well. Spread evenly over bread before baking.
This praline crunch topping I halved from Paula Dean's recipe. Honestly next time I make it I will use even less butter. Of course it was absolutely delicious, but really not necessary to use so much. And to think her original recipe called for 2 sticks of butter!!! I will probably use about 3/4-1/2 stick of butter next time.
1 10-oz jar of good quality strawberry perserves
3 tablespoons water
3 tablespoons apple juice
Combine all ingredients in a small saucepan and simmer on medium heat until warm and the consistency thins out like a syrup. Serve warm, drizzled on top of french toast, pancakes, or even ice-cream.