Friday, January 6, 2012

Overnight Eggnog French Toast

Waste is not my friend. It always bugs me when I buy a beautiful loaf of French Bread with good intentions only to find myself a day or two later with half a loaf of dried out not so fresh bread. Even worse, when plans change, and you didn't get to use it at all. Then you are left with a whole darn loaf. Rather than throwing it away, or allowing it to harden so you can use it as a weapon to whack the next salesman that comes to your door, make this! 

This recipe makes mornings easy. Throw it together before bed, and pop it in the oven when you wake up. Less than an hour later. Wahlaa! Breakfast! This is the best way to be sure everyone, including the cook, gets fresh and hot French Toast at the same time.

I have tried a few different recipes for Overnight French Toast Bakes. They are good, but one thing I always have issues with is sogginess. I do not like mushy French Toast. I tried Paula Deans Baked French Toast Casserole recipe, but it was too sweet and also soggy. I don't entirely blame this on her recipe though. I am not a fan for super sweet. I prefer to add additional sweet at the end with syrup. This way, people can adjust the sweetness level to their liking. Secondly, I didn't follow her recipe entirely. I didn't use half and half with the milk. I just used milk. Low fat milk at that. Bad call. With milk, low fat and skim are very watery and thin compared to whole milk or cream. It is just too think to make a good french toast. I think I needed that creamy thickness of the half and half to help avoid a soggy disaster when making Paula's recipe.

This recipe for the Baked French Toast has the perfect combo to avoid a mushy mess. And just a hint of sweetness from the eggnog and brown sugar. Give this recipe a whirl and use up that leftover eggnog and hardening french bread.

Overnight Eggnog French Toast

Overnight Eggnog French Toast 
For smaller crowd, cut recipe in half and serve in a 9x9 square dish or a round cake pan

¼ cup butter melted
1 cup brown sugar
1 large loaf of French bread (Mine was 2 feet long and 12 oz. 12 inches round in the middle)
10 eggs
1 ¼ cup Original Eggnog (thicker the better)
4 tsp vanilla
½ tsp cinnamon
1/8 tsp nutmeg
2 tsp Rum (optional)
1/8 tsp salt
½ cup of pecans chopped up

In a bowl combine brown sugar and melted butter. Mix and then pour on the bottom of a 9x13 baking dish.

Slice up the bread into 1 ½ inch thick pieces and place the pieces into the 9x13 on top of the butter/brown sugar mixture. If necessary, over lap them a bit like fallen dominoes.

In a bowl combine the eggs, eggnog, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, rum (optional), and salt. Mix well with a wire whisk until blended evenly.

Pour the egg/eggnog mixture over the bread slices and top with chopped pecans.

Cover airtight with lid or saran wrap and put in the refrigerator 6-10 hours or over night.

When you wake up in the morning, take it out of the fridge to sit for a few minutes while the oven preheats to 350 degrees.

While the oven is preheating, take the lid or saran wrap off and flip the bread pieces. This will help soak up any extra liquid, and also help prevent the dish from being too soggy.

When oven is preheated to 350, bake the casserole uncovered for approximately 35 minutes.

If it starts to get a little too dark on top for your liking, cover with tin foil towards the end of the baking time.

Check the bottom at the end of the baking time. If there is any extra liquid, which is unlikely, it should be cooked so that is sets up nicely…sort of like a bread pudding.  If it is still runny, continue to bake a bit. (You may or may not have the extra liquid by the time the dishes baking time is done. This depends on the amount of bread that was in your loaf.)

Let the dish cool lightly before digging in. Serve with maple syrup, and/or Eggnog Drizzle (recipe below)

Eggnog  French Toast with Eggnog Drizzle

Eggnog Drizzle

½ cup eggnog
¼ tsp nutmeg
4 tsp sugar
2 TB rum (optional)
4 oz cream cheese
1 TB butter

Warm cream cheese in microwave for 20 seconds if it has been in fridge.
Put all ingredients in a saucepan and heat and stir on med heat until blended smooth. Or give it a quick zip in a blender until smooth and then heat. Serve warm out of gravy boat for style.

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