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Stuffed French Toast with Berry Syrup

Friday, January 16, 2015

[Recipe makes 6 stuffed slices].
Per request months ago, I first attempted to put together a similar version of this recipe, but just served it with butter and syrup rather than a berry puree.  Although all of us taste-testers enjoyed the dish, the it was almost maxed out on the sweetness-and-totally-unhealthy scale.  I know stuffed French toast isn't supposed to be a healthy dish (and by all means, this final recipe will never be seen in any dieting books), but I felt it needed some sort of change before it would make the cut.  To give a nice balance to the spices in the batter and the richness of the cream cheese filling, I thought that some fresh berries would balance out the dish well, as well as provide some much needed color in the otherwise dull looking dish.  Like I said, this isn't something you're going to serve daily, but if you want to treat yourself, friends, or family once a month, this recipe will do the trick.

INGREDIENTS:

Filling:
8 ounces cream cheese
3 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 teaspoon sour cream

Berry Syrup:
6 ounces raspberries
6 ounces blackberries
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 tablespoon corn starch
1/2 cup water

Egg Batter:
2 large eggs
3/4 cup whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 tablespoons sugar
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 loaf challah bread, Italian bread, or similar (not pre-sliced)

DIRECTIONS:

For the filling, add the cream cheese to the bowl of a stand mixer and mix until smooth.  Add the powdered sugar, vanilla, and sour cream, and mix on low until combined.  Clean off the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula, and then mix on high for a minute.  Reserve.

For the syrup, add the berries, sugar, and lemon juice to a sauce pan.  In a small bowl or cup, whisk together the corn starch and water, and then add to the sauce pan.  Cook over medium heat until a boil is achieved, and then reduce to a simmer for 5 to 10 minutes.  Use an immersion blender to create the sauce, and then run the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve to remove the seeds.  Reserve.

Place a cooling rack inside of a rimmed sheet pan, and transfer to the oven.  Preheat your oven to 200° F.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the eggs, milk, vanilla, sugar, flour, salt, and cinnamon, and whisk by hand for 30 seconds, or until combined.  Slice the bread into six 1-1/2" slices.  Carefully use a paring knife to cut an incision through the bottom of each slice, making sure not to cut within 1/2" from the remaining three edges.  Divide the filling into six equal portions, and use a spoor or knife to fill and spread the filling.  Lastly, submerge each slice into the batter, making sure each side is coated.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium heat, and melt a dab of butter.  Once the butter is melted, add two slices of bread.  Once nicely browned, flip.  Lastly, sear off the tops, bottoms, and sides of the slices.  Transfer the french toast to the oven, and repeat this process for the remaining slices.

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