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Basic Stuffed French Toast

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Stuffed French Toast
Jessica Harlan

When you're looking for something to serve for breakfast or brunch that's even more decadent than French toast, try serving stuffed French toast. It takes a little more preparation, but it's a great way to incorporate seasonal flavors into your meal, to impress guests, or to use up a handful of leftover ingredients like fresh fruit or nuts. This recipe gives you the basic concept so that you can get creative with your own ingredients or use one of the variations, below. Pair your flavored stuffed French toast with a syrup or compote in the same flavor or one that complements it, for an even more impressive way to begin the day.

Slightly stale, rather than fresh, bread is far better for this recipe as it will better soak up the egg batter. The night before preparing this recipe, I like to spread the slices of bread out on a baking sheet and leave them sitting out on the counter, so that the slices are slightly hard and dry. If you don't have time, you can also put the slices on a baking sheet and put them in an oven on low heat (200˚F) for 5 to 10 minutes, or until the surface of the bread feels a little dry but it hasn’t started turning toasty yet.

Special Cooking Equipment Needed: Electric griddle or large nonstick skillet, mixing bowls

Prep Time: 15 minutes

Cook Time: 10 minutes

Total Time: 25 minutes

Yield: Serves 6 to 8 people

Ingredients:

  • 8 ounces light or regular cream cheese, softened
  • 1/3 cup fresh or dried fruit, nuts or other ingredients (see variations, below)
  • 2 tablespoons white or brown sugar, or to taste
  • 1 loaf day-old bread, such as a baguette or an artisan loaf, thinly sliced (1/2 inch to 3/4 inch pieces)
  • 5 eggs
  • 2 1/2 cups milk, any kind
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
  • Pinch salt
  • Butter, for griddle
  • Syrup or fruit compote, for serving

Preparation:

  1. In a small bowl using a fork or a spatula, combine the cream cheese, the fruit or flavoring ingredients and the brown sugar, stirring and mashing until it forms a relatively smooth paste and the ingredients are well mixed. Spread the mixture generously on one side of each piece of bread, then press two pieces of bread together, with the filling facing in, to make sandwiches. The filling layer should be thick enough so that it oozes out a little if the "sandwich" were to be squeezed. If the slices of bread are very large, cut them in half.

  2. Heat an electric griddle or a large nonstick pan over medium-high heat, and preheat the oven to 200˚F or use the "keep warm" setting if you have one. In a large, shallow bowl, whisk the eggs. Whisk in the milk, cinnamon, vanilla and salt.

  3. Place two or three of the French toast "sandwiches" in the batter, turning them over with a tongs to let them evenly soak up the batter. Place a pat of butter on the griddle and use a plastic or silicone turning spatula to spread the butter to evenly coat the cooking surface. Using a tongs, lift the French toast out of the batter, holding it over the bowl for a moment to let excess batter drip off. Place the French toast on the griddle. Cook for 4 to 5 minutes, until the underside is browned. Turn the French toast over and cook the other side another 4 to 5 minutes, until browned. Transfer the cooked French toast to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven until you've cooked all of the pieces. Serve hot, with syrup or compote.

Stuffed French Toast Variations:

Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast: To make the filling, mix the cream cheese with 1/3 cup pumpkin puree, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. For the batter, decrease the amount of milk to 2 cups and add 1/2 cup pumpkin puree. For topping, mix together 1 cup maple syrup and 1 cup chopped pecans in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until warm and serve in a gravy boat or syrup pitcher.

Berry Stuffed French Toast: To make the filling, mix the cream cheese with 1/3 cup mashed fresh berries, such as blueberries, raspberries, strawberries or blackberries and 2 tablespoons white sugar. Serve the French toast with fruit flavored syrup or fruit compote.

Walnut-Brown Sugar French Toast: To make the filling, mix the cream cheese with 1/3 cup toasted chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons brown sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon. For topping, mix together 1 cup maple syrup and 1 cup chopped walnuts in a small saucepan. Heat over low heat until warm and serve in a gravy boat or syrup pitcher.

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