Créme Brûlée French Toast

First, a confession: I don’t like sweet things for breakfast; never have. The list of breakfast things that are sweet that I didn’t eat growing up is VERRA LONG and I don’t want to bore you so here is the list of things that I ate as a child that were an the sweet spectrum: pancakes (sometimes if I puppy eyed just right I got waffles instead), muffins, and at Christmastime: stollen. So, sweet things for breakfast have not been my thing since 1984.

Brunch, however, is a different kettle of fish altogether. It straddles the line between to meals and thus all the normal meal-related eating rules suddenly don’t matter. Or put another way: I really like French Toast occasionally and it is a brunch food because holy delicious sugar, Batman.

The best thing about this recipe is one, it can be made the night before, and two, it’s made COMPLETELY in the oven, which means the stove is available for very important bacon cooking things. Also: it’s boozy, which is totally what one needs at brunch (Mother’s Day or no).

Speaking of Mother’s Day – shout out to all the mom’s in my life! You all are wonderful humans and I’m glad to know you and, upon occasion, be on the receiving end of your combined or individual wisdoms.59mothers-day-1372456_1920

If you are looking for something equally fancy but healthier to serve on Mother’s Day or for any brunch in general can I direct you to these epic pistachio, cherry and honey pancakes that are protein packed for your yummy and nutritional needs?

SIDEBAR: I finally finished S-Town … and WHAT THE WHAT?! Strangest podcast ride ever. At times this podcast was UTTERLY heartbreaking and at others completely batshit crazy. Which if you are from – or have spent any time in – a small town you know EXACTLY what I am talking about here. I love the things that the “This American Life” team are churning out for their podcasts: Serial, S-Town … and anything that Ira Glass touches I will listen to, just saying.

Crème Brûlée French Toast
modified from smitten kitchen

6 slices brioche (I used the Trader Joe’s version and ZOMG, SO GOOD)
1 1/3 cups whole milk
2/3 cup heavy cream
4 large eggs
1/3 cup granulated sugar + 1 TBSP
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
2 teaspoon Grand Marnier
½ orange, zested
2 teaspoons vanilla extract


Whisk together milk, cream, eggs, sugar, salt, liqueur, and vanilla extract.

Arrange bread slices on the smallest rimmed tray that will fit them in one layer (encourages maximum absorption) pour custard over slices. Allow them to absorb the custard for 30 minutes, turning the slices over at one point to ensure they’re soaking it up evenly. (Do ahead: You can also soak them overnight in the fridge. No need to flip them.)

Line a baking sheet with a Silpat or parchment paper. Transfer custard-soaked slices to prepared sheet, arranging them with a smidge of space between each to avoid making one French mega-toast. Bake French toast slices for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through (they should start to puff up a bit … if you’re worried about custard and runny centers test with a knife). Remove from oven.

Turn on the broiler and move oven rack into position.

Sprinkle 1 tsp of sugar on each toast slice. Put tray back in oven and broil for 5-7 minutes until sugar has melted and browned (but not burned). I would stand in front of the oven and watch as your toast can go from perfection to BURNT in the blink of an eye.

Serve warm with sliced fruit and a bit of syrup if you’d like.

What is your favorite breakfast or brunch food?


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