Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Stuffed French toast for brunch -- or dessert

If you have house guests over the holidays -- or even if you don't -- stuffed French toast would be a tasty surprise for friends or family. Serve it with bacon or sausage and a fruit salad for brunch, or cut the toasted sandwiches into quarters and offer with a cup of coffee for dessert or a late-night snack.

I like to fill the sandwiches with thin layers of a chocolate-hazelnut spread such as Nutella and bitter orange marmalade. Don't overdue the filling or it will leak out during cooking.

When I was in Cottlesville, Mo., recently, I stopped by a new candy store and coffee shop, VanBuskirk Artisanal Chocolates, and came home with a jar of chocolate-caramel jam with toasted hazelnuts that had been cooked in a copper kettle. When making these sandwiches, I paired the jam with orange marmalade and bread from another St. Louis-area business, The Daily Bread Bakery and Cafe. All three products were delicious, and a jar of chocolate jam and/or a jar of orange marmalade would make a sweet gift to a teacher or another someone special.

You could substitute peanut butter for the chocolate spread and experiment with different fruit jams, such as raspberry. Bananas would be a nice addition to the sandwich  or replacement for the jam.

You can use your favorite bread in this French toast, but I think a thinly sliced white bread made with eggs, such as challah or brioche, work best.

Finally, keep the burner on medium-low while you cook the sandwiches. If the heat is too high, the bread will brown before the eggs cook through.

Yield: 3 servings

2 eggs
3 tablespoons milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
6 thin slices white bread
2 tablespoons chocolate-hazelnut spread
2 tablespoons bitter orange marmalade
1 teaspoon butter

Beat eggs in a small bowl. Beat in milk and vanilla. Pour into a shallow dish, such as a pie plate.

Spread 3 slices of bread with a thin layer of chocolate-hazelnut spread. Spread the remaining 3 slices of bread with a thin layer of marmalade. Close the sandwiches.

Dip sandwiches into egg mixture, turning them several times so both sides absorb the mixture evenly. Meanwhile, melt butter over medium-low heat in a large nonstick skillet.

Cook sandwiches until golden on both sides, turning frequently.

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