Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Pecan Crusted French Toast

For years and years, I used the same French toast recipe.  It was always good, but nothing to write home, or online, about.  Recently I have tried a few different French toast varieties.  And each time, I have thought that my latest recipe was the best ever.  Until my next variety.  First it was strawberry cream cheese stuffed French toast, then pancake coated French toast, and finally cinnamon bread French toast casserole.  Today, I am happy to introduce my latest best-ever French toast--pecan crusted French toast.

This great breakfast creation has, as the name implies, a crusty exterior with a soft, moist interior.  And it's better than my standard French toast for the following reasons:  1.  It has pecans.  I put maple syrup on it.  Maple and pecans together are like peanut butter and chocolate.  2.  It uses only egg yolk.  No egg whites allowed.  This gives it the richness of eggs without the egg-y taste that egg whites can cause.  3.  It has a heavy dose of vanilla extract and a bit of bourbon to give it over-the-top flavor.  4.  The brown sugar coating caramelizes as it cooks.  It's a little bit like eating candy for breakfast.  Yum!

I clearly have your attention.  I am telling you that if you love pecans, you have to make this pecan crusted French toast.  This is the stuff dreams are made of.  It is flavorful with great texture.  And I adapted the recipe from Cook's Illustrated so you know the method is spot-on.

You do your basic egg, milk, spices mix.  Then you dip the bread and allow the mixture to soak in.  Then top with a pecan and brown sugar mixture and cook it up.  It's easy and soooo delicious!  
This is maybe even good enough to stay up all night waiting for.  It's like the excitement of Christmas morning, whenever you want.  Just make it, and you will know!

Pecan Crusted French Toast
1/2 cup pecans
1/4 cup light brown sugar
8 large slices French bread, sliced 1/2-inch thick
1 1/2 cup skim milk, heated in the microwave until warm to the touch, about 80 degrees
3 large egg yolks
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
2 Tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1/4 tsp salt
1 Tbsp vanilla extract
1 Tbsp bourbon
Process pecans and light brown sugar in food processor until coarsely ground.  Set aside.
Whisk milk, yolks, cinnamon, melted butter, salt, vanilla, and bourbon in large bowl until well blended.  Transfer mixture to 13x9-inch baking pan.
Soak bread in milk mixture until saturated but not falling apart, 20 seconds per side.  Using firm slotted spatula, pick up bread slice and allow excess milk mixture to drip off; repeat with remaining slices.  Place soaked bread on another baking sheet or platter.  Sprinkle 1 Tbsp nut mixture over one side of each slice of soaked bread.
Spray skillet with non-stick baking spray and heat over medium-low heat.  Transfer soaked bread to skillet, nut mixture side down first, and cook until golden brown 4-5 minutes.  Meanwhile, sprinkle remaining nut mixture over exposed side of bread.  Flip and continue to cook until second side is golden brown, about 4 minutes longer.  If doing in batches, transfer to baking sheet and place in 200 degree oven.
Serve warm with maple syrup if desired.

Recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated, January 2009.

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