Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Shmancy Spiced French Toast

You know what is awesome?  Brunch!  You know what else is awesome?  Impressing your friends with a brunch dish that appears that you worked and cooked for hours- but in reality it took little to no time!  That's exactly how I feel about this super shmancy pants baked french toast.  The special thing about baked french toast is that you can do it ahead of time (like the night before even) and then it's all ready to pop it in the oven when you're ready to mix up some mimosas Sunday morning.

All you need is some bread- this is a great way to use up semi-stale bread.  Then, whisk together eggs and milk with whatever spices or flavors you desire.  I went with some warm spices from cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg and vanilla.  But you can play with the flavor a little by adding in orange or lemon zest or even adding a different extract like almond or coconut.  Then change it up a little more by throwing in any fresh or dried fruit and chopped nuts- I went with chopped dates and pecans... mmmm mmmmm.

Lightly coat a 9x9 baking dish with non-stick spray.  Simply cube some whole-wheat bread into about 1in. x 1in. pieces and layer evenly in the bottom of your baking dish.  Sprinkle with desired chopped nights and fruit. 

Whisk together the egg, milk, a touch of sugar and your desired spices and extracts.

Pour the egg mixture over your bread.  Let this sit for at least an hour, or up to overnight in the refrigerator.  When you are ready to bake it, pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cook covered with foil for the first half to prevent over-browning and then remove the foil so the top can crisp up a bit (about 45 minutes total baking time).  When it starts to puff up and is no longer jiggly in the middle, it's ready to go!

After you have your french toast, you can take it to the next level with your sauce.  I kept it simple and did a maple yogurt sauce.  I want flavor without overdoing the calories so I stuck with a fat-free Greek yogurt and added some real maple syrup- a little goes a long way when you use real maple.  Simply drizzle your sauce over the french toast when it is hot out of the oven- so GOOD!  Now all you need is a fresh fruit salad and some cocktails and you're ready for brunch!

Shmancy Spiced French Toast w/ Maple Yogurt Glaze
6 slices whole wheat bread, cut into 1 in. cubes
1/4 cup chopped dried dates (or dried fruit of your choice)
1/4 cup chopped pecans (or nuts of your choices)
4 eggs
1 2/3 cup skim milk
1 Tb sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp allspice
1/2 tsp nutmeg
1/2 cup fat-free plain Greek yogurt
3 Tb real maple syrup
1/4 tsp cinnamon

1- Lightly coat 9x9 baking dish with non-stick spray.
2- Spread bread cubes evenly in baking dish and sprinkle chopped dates and pecans over top
3- Whisk together eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, allspice and nutmeg.  Pour over top of bread and let sit for at least an hour (or up to overnight) in refrigeration.
4- Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees F.  Cover french toast with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for another 20-25 minutes until puffy and golden brown.
5- Whisk together yogurt, maple syrup and cinnamon.  Drizzle sauce over french toast and serve warm.

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