Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Right Way to do French Toast

Mother’s Day was Sunday and we decided to celebrate by hosting a brunch for our mother’s and families. I generally make fancy brunches twice a year and so I have one fantastic frittata recipe which I just use over and over. Of course, seeing that I just made this for JR’s whole family, I couldn’t possibly serve it to them again!

So I went on a hunt for a new, quick and easy, serves lots of people, brunch recipe. It was a lot harder to find than I expected. I found a number of frittata recipes that were basically the same as what I already make, or they had mushrooms in them (eww!) Then my friend ND sent me a link to the Food Network’s Mother’s Day guide and I found the holy grail of brunch recipes – Baked Challah French Toast Casserole with Pecan Praline topping (I hope you are envisioning this with a halo of stars and awe inspiring music playing in the background…)

I could tell from looking at the recipe that it was easy, it would be decadent, and it would serve lots of people. I had no idea HOW easy and delicious it would be.

I spent 10 minutes on Saturday and 10 minutes on Sunday, threw it in the oven and when I pulled it out the angel’s sung (not to mention a couple mothers). If you need to impress people at brunch, make this. If you want to gain 10 lbs, make a double batch like I did and eat it for dessert for the rest of the week.

Baked Challah French Toast Casserole with Pecan Praline

French Toast:
1 loaf Challah bread (18ounces, Whole Foods has a great one)
8 eggs-worth of egg beaters
2 cups half-and-half (I used fat free)
1 cup skim milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Dash salt

Pecan Praline Topping:
1/2 pound (2 sticks) softened butter
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1. Slice the Challah into 20 slices, 1-inch each. Arrange slices in a generously buttered 9 by 13-inch flat baking dish in 2 rows, overlapping the slices.

2. In a large bowl, combine the eggs, half-and-half, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt and beat with a whisk until blended but not too bubbly.

3. Pour mixture over the bread slices, making sure all are covered evenly with the milk-egg mixture. Spoon some of the mixture in between the slices. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

4. The next day, preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

5. Make the Pecan Praline topping by mixing all ingredients in a large bowl until creamy.

6. Spread the Pecan Praline topping evenly over the bread and then bake for 40 minutes, until puffed and lightly golden. Serve with maple syrup.

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