Brunch is the best sort of meal there is; lazier than breakfast, sweet and savory, undeniably social and alcohol appropriate--who could really ask for more? Make the most of the most decadent of all meal-times with a fittingly decadent and diabolical entrée, incorporating the trifecta of breakfast all-stars (bacon, eggs and toast) and the richness of mascarpone whipped cream and custardy french toast for an audacious riff on the classics, and a proven hangover cure. And, yeah, it's as good as it sounds.
Step 1: "So, What'll I Need?"
Conveniently, this french toast recipe is made up primarily of pantry staples:
1 loaf day old* Challah, Brioche, Shokupan or French bread
1 cup Milk
1 tsp and 1/2 tsp Vanilla , separated
1/2 tsp Cinnamon
2 tsp and 1 1/2 tbs Confectioner's sugar , separated
1/8 tsp Kosher salt
1/2 pint Heavy cream
1 cup Mascarpone
1/2 cup Maple syrup
4 slices Thick cut bacon *
If you're balking at marscarpone, an Italian sweet-cream cheese found most famously in the creamy filling of Tiramisu, being called a pantry staple, know this: mascarpone has half the fat of butter, and half the saturated fat of both butter and cream cheese. Before you slather that butter or Philly on your bagel or english muffin in the morning, consider mascarpone, it's much better for you while still being incredibly decadent, and the flavor'll totally win you, promise.
*Day old, stale bread is drier, and better at absorbing custard for a better, creamier end product. If your bread is fresh, leave it out a while to get a bit drier before dredging it.
*A tip for efficiently cutting the bacon into uniform cubes is to freeze it. The cold firms the bacon a bit, never freezing it "solid" per se, and you'll find it's easily sliced with a sharp knife. Saves a lot of time and effort wrestling with slimy bacon, and might save a finger or two, too.
Step 2: "How Should I Start?"
1. First, slice your bread into hefty slices, roughly an inch thick. Give them a little time to dry out and breathe a little.
2. Preheat your oven to 375-400 degrees .
3. Slice your frozen bacon into small cubes , roughly 1/4 inch square. Use a cutting board specifically for meat to avoid contamination.
4. While your bread slices chillax on the table, combine the eggs, milk, 1 tsp vanilla, cinnamon, 2 tsp confectioner's sugar * and salt in a large mixing bowl.
5. Blend thoroughly with a mixer or a whisk until there are no clumps of cinnamon or sugar, and the mixture is amalgamated with no globs of egg whites. These globs will cook into opaque, unappetizing goobers, so get rid of them. Done? Onward and upward.
*Sugar isn't generally added to the custard base of french toast, but confectioner's sugar (which is really only a mix of 1 tbs cornstarch per 1/2 cup granulated sugar, processed into a fine powder) adds a tad bit more sweetness, and the smidge of cornstarch it brings to the table helps to firm up the custard and keep it cohesive. If you don't have confectioner's sugar (well...make your own now that you know how!) or would prefer to go without, skip it. It'll still turn out perfectly.
Step 3: "Are We Ready to Cook This Now?"
1. Heat your french toast cooking surface , be that a griddle (stovetop or electric) or a skillet over medium, or 325-350 degrees.
2. Heat your bacon cooking skillet over medium heat.
3. Once it's hot, grease the griddle or pan reserved for the french toast generously with butter.
4. Dredge bread slices in egg custard mixture until well saturated, but not soggy.
5. Fry the slices for 2 1/2 - 3 minutes , then flip and cook another 2-3. Transfer to an insulated sheet pan or baking sheet.
7. Cook bacon steadily* until the fat has rendered and the bacon is crisp. Remove with a slotted spoon to layered paper towels to drain. Reserve drippings.
*Cooking the bacon more slowly will cook it more evenly, and avoid getting scorched bits in the rendered fat. After all, we have plans for it.
Step 4: "OK, Now What?"
1. Bake the french toast for 10-12 minutes, flipping the baking sheet 180 degrees halfway so they can cook evenly. The middles will rise from concave, and the toast should feel more firm and set.
2. Combine heavy cream, remaining vanilla and remaining confectioner's sugar in a large mixing bowl. Whip until firm, light and fluffy , but not too long...we're not making butter today.
3. Gently fold in 1 cup softened mascarpone with the whipped cream. When just combined, store the bowl in the refrigerator.
4. Remove the french toast from the oven , and allow to cool slightly.
5. Combine maple syrup with 2 tbs of that rendered bacon fat . Stir well to emulsify the devilish concoction. Stir in 2 tbs (roughly half) of the bacon pieces .
Step 5: "Alright, Ready to Nosh?"
It's business time. Assembly is simple:
1. Lay one slice of french toast on your plate .
2. Spread about 3 tbs mascarpone cream onto the toast .
3. Cover with another appropriately sized slice .
4. Sprinkle with confectioner's sugar , if desired.
5. Drizzle on bacon-maple syrup .
6. Garnish with--what else?--more bacon .
7. Chow down, and enjoy.