Stuffed French Toast

Stuffed French ToastToast of Christmas
Like a lot of families, we celebrate the holidays in multiple houses. Christmas Eve is generally at my place (though my sister is hosting this year). Christmas morning has been at my place the last couple of years and will be again this year. For Christmas dinner, we are all scattered. This might seem kinda strange to you to have all the celebrations with the same family at different locations. I mean what’s with musical houses? The answer is that it is not always the same faces at each celebration.

Christmas Eve is with my family, my sister’s family, and my sister’s in-laws. Christmas morning is my family and my sister’s family. Christmas Dinner is my family and my in-laws. By doing it this way we make sure that everybody gets to see each other to celebrate and exchange gifts. It also allows for some side celebrations. Let me explain…

While my family is enjoying our traditional Ebelskiver on Christmas morning, my in-laws are kinda left to their own devices. So, for the last 10 years or so, my brother-in-law hosts breakfast for their side of the family at his place. It is a much smaller and definitely quieter affair that always features a decadent French toast along with great coffee and fruit. It also means that by the time they get to my house, everyone is stuffed and thus begins the annual debate over when we should eat dinner…

French toast is a great option for a crazy holiday morning because it takes very little time and effort to put together and there are so many options out there for jazzing it up a bit. My brother-in-law has what is apparently a secret recipe that involves poppy seeds. For me, I like any version that includes fruit and/or nuts. Then, of course, you can get really wacky and stuff it for extra decadence…

And for those elves who have stayed up all night assembling a bike or a toddler-size kitchen, there is always the overnight version to make life a little easier…this Ina recipe is one of my favorites.

For those who want to go all out, here is a recipe to consider for some out of this world Stuffed French Toast….

Stuffed French Toast
Adapted from Morning Food by Margaret Fox
Yields 6 servings

For the stuffing
1 pound fresh ricotta or Marscapone cheese
1 1/2 teaspoons grated orange zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon almond extract
1/8 teaspoon grated nutmeg
4 medium apples, peeled, cored, and thinly-sliced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
2 tablespoons brown sugar

For the French Toast
1 loaf (1 pound) challah, brioche or dense white bread, unsliced, preferably homemade, one or two days old
6 large eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/8 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Make the stuffing mixture
Mix together the cheese, orange zest, vanilla and almond extracts, and nutmeg. Sauté the apples in butter until softened and cooked all the way through, but not mushy. Add the cinnamon and sugar and cook over low heat for another minute or two, until sugar coats the apple slices evenly. Set aside for garnish.

Prepare the bread
Preheat the oven to 375°F. Slice the bread at an angle, making each slice almost 2 inches thick. Cut each slice in half diagonally. With a small sharp knife, cut a pocket into each half, leaving the crusts intact.

Stuff each triangle with about 2 tablespoons of stuffing mixture or as much as can be inserted without tearing the bread.

Make the French Toast
Beat together the eggs, milk, nutmeg, salt, and vanilla. Immerse the triangles in the liquid for about 5 minutes. It takes a long time for the liquid to soak into the bread thoroughly.

In a large skillet, melt the butter and when hot, add as many slices as will easily fit. Sauté on both sides until richly browned, then place in the oven for 5 minutes. Garnish with hot apples, and serve.

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