Which is why I thought I'd share the recipe for the booze-laced French toast I made for my husband's 30th birthday. It just may be the ultimate in morning meal decadence. Sweet and spiked. What's not to love?
I knew I wanted to make a French toast fit for the 21-and-over set but debated for days over which recipe to follow. I finally decided to trust the cooking genius that is Deb Perelman, the author of Smitten Kitchen (the blog and the cookbook), and made her Boozy Baked French Toast.
But because I can't leave well enough alone and feel compelled to put my personal stamp on everything, I made a few tweaks to Deb's recipe (different bread, different booze, adding citrus zest and nuts). She does, in fact, suggest a few ways to put a flavor spin on the basic custard. Who am I to argue? It's fun to play with food!
Without further adieu, here's the recipe, with my substitutions and additions.
Boozy Baked French Toast
Inspired by Deb Perelman/Smitten Kitchen
1 loaf of Cibatta bread (or other crusty bread that will stand up to being soaked overnight; day-old bread works great for this), cut into 1-inch slices
2 cups whole milk
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons sugar
3 tablespoons Cointreau (orange-flavored liqueur)
3 tablespoons Frangelico (hazelnut-flavored liqueur)
2 teaspoons orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup of praline pecans, roughly chopped
1-2 teaspoons cinnamon
Powdered sugar, for garnish (optional)
Grease baking dish (I used a 9x14-inch oval stoneware gratin dish) with butter (I had unsalted).
In a medium bowl (with a spout, if you have one), whisk together the milk, cream, eggs, sugar, salt, liqueurs and orange zest.
Arrange bread in two layers in the pan. I made sure the bottom layer was tightly-packed, ripping one slice of bread into small pieces to fill in any gaps. Sprinkle the chopped pecans evenly over the first layer, and then pour a 1/3 of the custard over the layer (you can pour all the custard at the end if you wish, but I wanted to make sure the bottom layer got nice and soaked).
For the top layer, I slightly overlapped the slices in a pretty pattern, but made sure to keep the layer low-profile so it would be able to soak up the custard well. Pour the remaining custard evenly over the bread slices.
Sprinkle cinnamon and sugar over the top, to taste.
Wrap the dish tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. The bread will have absorbed the boozy milk custard by the time you wake.
In the morning, retrieve your dish from the fridge and remove plastic wrap (letting the dish de-chill a bit is also important if using stoneware). Bake at 425 for 30 minutes, or until puffed and golden.
To serve, cut into squares, dust with powdered sugar and sprinkle a few more chopped pecans. Serve with hot maple syrup and fresh fruit (or bacon would be good, if that's your thing).
Makes 6 generous servings.
Having made so many tweaks, I was a bit nervous as it baked in the oven, but the bread pudding-like French toast turned out wonderfully. The birthday boy loved it, and that's the most important thing. We liked it so much, we even had leftovers the next day—and it was still delicious! Double success.
Not to mention, Deb Perelman LIKED the photo of the birthday brekkie on Instagram and I about died. There may have been some squealing. #fangirl
Sunday brunch is just around the corner... If you try out this recipe, I'd love to hear how it goes!