Introduction: Coconut Rum French Toast With Cherry-Balsamic Compote

About: I am a queer, transgender, nonbinary, and mixed-race picture book writer/illustrator. As a young person, I didn’t have the words to explain the big feelings I had about my identity and relationships. It is so …

I love french toast because it is one of the best ways to use up stale bread. There's plenty of ways to get super creative with it and introduce a wide variety of flavors, but there are also a few tips that can really bring french toast to the next level.

Prep time: 20 minutes

Cook time: 10 minutes

Wait time: overnight, or 2 to 12 hours (flexible)

Total time: 9ish hours

Ingredients for french toast in general:

  • a thick crusty bread, preferably white and a little stale (brioche is great, but so is a plain no-knead bread--anything really except store bought pre-sliced bread)
  • eggs (or banana/coconut milk for vegan french toast)
  • butter or olive oil
  • dairy milk, soy milk, coconut milk, or almond milk (or something creamy and similar)
  • fruit, jam, maple syrup, or other topping
  • brown sugar, white sugar, or honey (optional if you are already using sweet ingredients like overripe bananas)
  • spices (good ones include: ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, allspice, cloves, marjoram, anise, vanilla)
  • (optional) alcohol (rum, bourbon, or fruit-flavored liqueurs are my go-to's)

Ingredients for coconut rum french toast:

  • no knead bread (3 days old, home made)
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 can coconut milk
  • cinnamon (2 tsp), ginger (1/4 tsp), nutmeg (1/4 tsp), anise (1/4 tsp), salt (1/2 tsp), vanilla (1 tsp) (measurements are approximations, you can spice to taste)
  • 1-2 Tbs of rum, or to taste
  • olive oil/butter for frying
  • bananas (topping)

Ingredients for cherry-balsamic compote:

  • 1 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1 cup pitted fresh cherries
  • (optional) 1 Tbs sugar
  • (optional) 1 Tbs of alcohol (rum, vodka, fruit-flavored liqueurs, bourbon, gin, etc.--I didn't this time, but vodka or rum would have been a great addition)

Step 1: Prepping the Night Before

  1. Slice bread.
  2. You want your bread nice and dry, but not toasted (that way it'll soak up your liquid). A couple options: use stale bread, slice your bread and leave it out with a fan for an hour or two, bake in the oven on low (~200 F) for 10 minutes.
  3. While your bread is getting dry, mix up your egg mixture (vegans can substitute mashed bananas and applesauce for eggs to taste)
  4. In a rectangular pan that fits your bread flat: whisk together: 4 eggs, 1 can coconut milk, spices, vanilla, rum, and a pinch of salt. (plus any other ingredients that you think would be tasty)
  5. Place bread in egg mixture, flip and spoon mixture on top to thoroughly coat.
  6. Cover and place in fridge overnight.

Step 2: In the Morning:

Fry your french toast and make cherry-balsamic compote:

  1. Slice cherries and remove pits
  2. Preheat pan(s) on medium-low
  3. On medium heat, simmer at ~1:1 ratio by mass cherries and balsamic vinegar. If necessary, add up to 1 tbsp of sugar. However, this compote tastes amazing when it is a little tart. Balsamic vinegar is naturally sweet, so sugar might not be necessary.
  4. I prefer to add cherries in 3 stages: at the beginning, in the middle, and near the end. The cherries cooked from the beginning will be fully broken apart, and the cherries near the end add a little texture.
  5. Add some olive oil or butter to a pan and fry your french toast on both sides until it is thoroughly cooked and browned on each side.
  6. As your french toast is frying, stir the cherry-balsamic compote. When it reaches a boil, bring down the temperature to low and let simmer, continuing to stir.
  7. Taste the cherry balsamic compote. Mine was sweet and tart and delicious with just those two ingredients, but if you'd like to add sugar or more alcohol, go for it.

Step 3: Enjoy!

Serve two slices per person, a few banana slices, and some cherry compote.

General tips for making your own recipes:

And, next time play around with your french toast ingredients. The most important parts are having a thick crusty bread that is dry and allowing your french toast to soak overnight. The base of a basic french toast is just eggs and milk, but you can absolutely play around with those ingredients. I've made vegan french toast with coconut milk and bananas before that was absolutely amazing. A little spice can go a long way. For me, I always like to have some kind of ingredient that is a little surprising to really give the french toast some wow factor. In this case, the cherry-balsamic compote was a huge hit and adding a little bourbon or rum to french toast is always awesome. Some surprise-wow ingredients you could try include (don't use all of these at once, just consider adding something to make your french toast really stand out): espresso, balsamic vinegar, alcohols and liqueurs, fresh mint, coconut milk instead of dairy, fresh fruits, peanut butter, jam...

Please share photos of your amazing french toast creations!

Cooking Basics Challenge

Participated in the
Cooking Basics Challenge

Oil and Vinegar Challenge

Participated in the
Oil and Vinegar Challenge

Before and After Contest

Participated in the
Before and After Contest