Sunday, February 8, 2009

challah back, y'all

My pals Krista and Alett came over for a 13.9-mile run, after which we made bananas foster stuffed french toast, courtesy of Thursday Night Smackdown, whose directions are replicated below (slightly moved about and with my comments in italics).

Mascarpone-Stuffed French Toast with Banana-Cardamom-Brown Sugar Topping
serves 4

For the French Toast:
1 medium loaf challah or brioche
1/2 c. mascarpone
4 tbsp. honey
1 1/2 c. half-and-half, cream, or mixture of milk and cream/half-and-half
5 large eggs
Pinch of salt
2-4 tbsp. unsalted butter

For the topping:
1/3 c. packed light brown sugar
1 tbsp. vanilla
2 tbsp. dark rum
2 tbsp. unsalted butter
1/4 c. heavy cream
3/4 tsp. ground cardamom, fresh if possible )
3 ripe bananas

Bacon should also be included as an ingredient, as Thursday Night Smackdown did. I got an Applegate Farms one since I couldn't find a Niman Ranch one.

The night before you plan to make this, slice the bread into 1 1/2 inch slices and cut pockets for stuffing - stick a paring knife into the bottom of each slice and work it back and forth until you have as large a pocket as you can make without destroying the bread. Leave the bread out overnight to dry out.

You can make the custard the night before as well: whisk half-and-half, eggs, salt and 2 tablespoons of the honey together.

Whisk the other 2 tablespoons of honey into the mascarpone.

Scoop the mixture into a piping bag or ziploc with the tip snipped off. Fill the cavities in the bread with the cheese mixture. I found this part really hard! Alett had to help me by propping the bread holes open with two forks while I squeezed cheese out of the ziploc bag, then poking the cheese in after I took out the bag.

Put the bread into the fridge while you pre-heat the oven and get the custard ready to give the cheese a little time to chill. When you’re ready to cook, preheat the oven to 300 and melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.

Pour the custard mix into a pie plate. Put a cooling rack over some paper towels. Put each slice of bread into the custard and hold down for 30 seconds; flip and hold down for another 30. Put the custard-soaked slices onto the cooling rack; this allowed the custard to really seep into the bread, and the paper towels catch any drippings. I ended up just using a bowl and it turned out okay except for the last piece, which could not fit into the remaining egg mixture. I poured the egg mixture over it while it was on the cooling rack. Check out Alett's arrangement of bacon strips.

Cook each piece of French toast for 2-3 minutes per side, until golden brown. Transfer all the toast to a baking sheet and bake for another 5-7 minutes, until cooked through. The last few ended up with gorgeous color striations.
Check out the finished bacon:

Put all the ingredients except the bananas into a medium skillet over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is dissolved, all the ingredients are incorporated and the mixture is bubbling; it will just be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon. I ground up fresh cardamom in a spare coffee grinder. The fresh cardamom really made a difference!

Slice the bananas and toss them with the sauce. Cook for 5-6 minutes, until the bananas are heated through. The sauce will thicken a bit when off the heat.

Krista chopped up the bananas.

Then Alett tossed them with the sauce.

Pour over french toast, pancakes, waffles or ice cream and enjoy. We totally did!

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