French Toast with Vanilla Bean Mascarpone
Who doesn’t love French Toast?
One of the best wedding gifts I received was a Bride & Groom cookbook for two by masters of food, Williams Sonoma. I noticed it had a really good little section on breakfast and brunch menus and found a little gem for French Toast. Their recipe calls for orange zest and unfortunately I’m not real hot on orange flavors in my food…even though I love oranges on their own. Long story short…decided lemon zest was more up my alley. I tweaked the sweetness a bit since I wanted to go with a really sweet, vanilla bean mascarpone topping. I remember making this for the first time as a new bride and semi new cook and the results were just off the charts. Since you soak the day old baguette slices in batter for about 10-15 minutes, you allow the lemon zest to infuse the bread, also creating a really custardy interior.
A couple of tips to keep in mind. Day old baguette is a must. I usually use a good French bread since it doesn’t overpower any delicate flavors. Using bread that is a little stale allows for a long soak in the batter without the bread falling apart on you. Second, butter up that cast iron skillet baby!! If you don’t have a cast iron pan…throw on those pants and get your butt to the store. A cast iron skillet is my FAVORITE kitchen pan. I use it for everything…you can get an amazing sear on steaks and chops and then pop it in the oven to finish if needed, pizzas, cornbread, frittatas…
Ok…back to the above drool worthy french toast and pillowy soft… VANILLA BEAN MASCARPONE. This topping will cure every sweet tooth in your head! This is off the charts. You won’t even want syrup…but you can definitely do that too..no judgment here!
If you’re saying, what the hell is mascarpone and why would I spread that on french toast, then hang on tight. Mascarpone is simply the Italian version of cream cheese, although in my opinion sweeter and creamier. It is best known for being used to make Tiramisu…another delicious Italian treat! It is so rich..try it, you will love it. I just add some sugar in most cases and sweeten it up. In this case I had some leftover spiced walnuts from Christmas, so those got chopped up and tossed in with a whole vanilla bean….splurge. Vanilla bean prices are scary!
Ok, so here we go. Please give this recipe a shot for a bunch or a sweet treat for you and your honey…or if the kids have been good…them too!
- 1 day old baguette, cut at a horizontal bias
- 4 whole eggs
- 1 egg yolk
- 2 cups whole milk
- 1-2 Tbsp lemon zest
- Juice of same lemon
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1-2 tsp vanilla extract
- 2 Tbsp butter
- 8 oz tub of mascarpone
- 1-2 Tbsp of sugar
- 1 vanilla bean pod
- candied walnuts / nuts (optional)
- maple syrup if desired
- Preheat oven to 200 degrees and place a baking sheet inside to warm
- Whisk together milk, eggs, lemon juice and zest, salt, and vanilla extract. Pour into a pyrex dish (11x13 works good). Place baguette slices in the batter and take a fork and poke holes in the tops of the bread, then judge them down with your fingers to make sure the bread is almost submerged. Let bread soak 10-15 minutes.
- Heat cast iron and add 2 Tbsp of butter. When it foams, add bread slices to pan (don't crowd pan). Cook 3-4 minutes per side at medium heat checking for caramelization. After they are good and brown, pop the done slices into the oven to keep warm while you finish up the rest of the slices. If your pan dries out, add a bit more butter.
- Mix your tub of mascarpone with 1-2 Tbsp of sugar and the scraped out seeds of the vanilla bean pod. If you are using candied nuts, crush those us and mix them in too. Give it a tast to make sure it's sweet enough for you. Plop a big scoop down on that french toast and enjoy!