Friday, February 13, 2009

Chocolate French Toast with Sauteed Bananas

French Toast

Need something sweet to start your day? Or perhaps end your day? This can be made in several ways to accommodate either. In my picture I have plated this as more of a dessert, but it's also very easy to simplify this a bit and turn it into a suitable breakfast or brunch item. I love french toast, or pain perdu as it would be called if you were in french bistro. French toast can take on many variations. Perhaps one of my favorite is sandwiched with some turkey or ham and then topped with fried eggs and maple syrup! I'll have to post that one of these days. For today I have added some cocoa powder to my standard french toast custard. I'm not sure that I can pick up a strong cocoa flavor, but it definitely adds more depth to the french toast. For breakfast I would soak the bread and cook as normal serving it with maybe some lightly sauteed bananas or fresh bananas and some honey or maple syrup. For dessert as pictured here I have sandwiched slices with chocolate chips and served it with more chocolate sauce and caramelized brown butter bananas. If you have never experienced it, chocolate and bread are a fantastic combination!

Chocolate French Toast (custard enough for 3-4 servings)

The best bread for french toast is challah, or brioche but any sturdy bread would work well.
This custard can easily be doubled or tripled for more servings.

1/3 cup whole milk or 2%
1 egg
2 TBS cocoa powder
1 TBS sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp bourbon (optional)

1 cup chocolate chips or chopped pieces of your favorite chocolate

Whisk together the egg, cocoa powder, sugar until completely combined. Add the milk and bourbon and vanilla. Slice the bread into 1/2- 3/4" slices. Heat up a griddle or saute pan, lightly grease with butter or pan spray. Dip slices of bread into the custard, letting it sit for 30 seconds to soak up some of the custard and shake off the excess before placing it into the pan. The bread will burn if the heat is too high, so keep it on a medium low heat and let it cook until the first side is cooked but not too dark (it will be hard to tell because it's chocolate but you should see some crust form). After you flip the bread over sandwich two pieces together with the chocolate. Arrange some chocolate on one piece and top with another piece of the toast, making sure the cooked side is facing in, touching the chocolate. As the chocolate melts it will help to hold the two pieces together. Cook until the bottom is not to dark but has form a crust, then gently flip the sandwich over and cook the other side. After cooking you can transfer them to a 250 degree F oven to keep warm until serving.
You can dip and sandwich the pieces of bread together (with chocolate in the middle), brown both sides (of the sandwich) and then finish cooking in the oven at 375 until the sandwiches are cooked through and the chocolate is melted, about 15 minutes depending on how cold the sandwiches are going in. This lets you prepare this ahead of time and you can put them in the oven right before serving.

Sauteed Bananas
For the bananas, briefly saute them in some brown butter* Use about 1/2 TBS per banana and then sprinkle in some confectioners sugar to taste and a pinch of salt. Add thick slices of banana to the pan and cook them over medium high heat until you begin to get a little color on them, but they still are firm in the middle. Make sure not to cook them too long or they become mushy and fall apart.

*For brown butter, let the butter melt over low heat until the milk solids begin to brown (not burn) and the butter takes on a nutty aroma
After the sandwiches come out of the oven slice them in half on the diagonal, sprinkle with some powdered sugar and serve with the sauteed bananas. You could also serve this with some chocolate sauce and or whipped cream or ice cream.

For Breakfast:
For something not quite as sweet, you can cook the french toast as normal and skip sandwiching with the chocolate. I would still serve it with bananas (because I love them!) but they could either be fresh or still lightly sauteed and drizzle some honey or maple syrup on top.

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