It was one of those weekends where I didn't feel like baking. Not one little bit. A lazy Sunday morning (after catching up on the sleep that I lost during the week) needed French toast. It had to be done. I had a loaf of day-old brioche, a bar of white chocolate and a punnet of raspberries. Raspberries are totally out of season in Australia at the moment and stupidly expensive, but you know when you see something in the store that you just can't resist? I'm so glad I didn't fight the urge in this case because it led to this White Chocolate & Raspberry Brioche French Toast. So ridiculously good.
I didn't realise until I started looking at the photos just then how they look a bit like grilled cheese sandwiches, which I admit is a little gross. It's a pity because this was such an indulgent, delicious dish that I wouldn't want anyone to be put off by mistaken appearances. The similarity couldn't really be helped since I used white chocolate, you could probably use milk or dark chocolate and it would taste great. But I think white chocolate works the best with all the other flavours going on here.
The French toast mixture that I used was perfect, just like Martha promised. It's lightly fragrant with spices and fruit flavours, and when you bite into that thin, crisp outer layer (that I fried in some damn good cultured butter), you will want to do a little dance. The hit of cinnamon, the sweetness from the melted white chocolate and the burst of tangy raspberries, what a combination.
I'd definitely recommend going to the trouble of getting your hands on some brioche if you want to make this, store bought or homemade. Though regular white bread will work it doesn't have the same lightness of texture and beautiful richness that brioche bread has. This particular version doesn't even need any maple syrup on top, there's enough sweetness from the white chocolate. And make sure not to soak the bread for too long or it will still be soggy in the middle even after you fry it up. Have it for a very indulgent breakfast for a special occasion, or have it as dessert. Either way you won't be sorry.
White Chocolate & Raspberry Brioche French Toast
(adapted from Martha Stewart's Perfect French Toast, serves 2)
4 slices brioche, preferably day-old, sliced 1 inch thick (I bought mine this time, but you could make your own too)
3 large eggs
3/4 cups milk
Juice of 1/2 an orange (about 2-3 tbsp)
Zest of 1/2 a lemon (about 2 tsp)
1 tbsp pure vanilla extract
1 tsp brown sugar
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
Pinch of freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
Butter for frying
100g good quality white chocolate, melted (either zapped in the microwave 30 secs a til melted or over a double boiler) - can replace with milk or dark chocolate
About 1/2 punnet raspberries (about 60g, fresh or frozen) - can replace with other berries
Icing sugar to dust
(If making a bigger batch, preheat oven to about 95°C (200°F) and keep toast warm in oven on a wire rack while making the rest of the batch) Whisk together eggs, milk, juice, vanilla, sugar, zest, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a shallow baking dish. Place skillet or non-stick frying pan over medium heat and melt about 1 tbsp (15g) of butter in the pan.
Dip one slice of bread in mixture and allow to soak for 20 seconds. Place slice dipped side down in the pan and fry for 2-3 minutes until golden brown. While frying, spread a layer of melted white chocolate on the top side of the bread and place a small handful of raspberries over the top. Dip another slice of bread in mixture and allow to soak for 20 seconds again. Sandwich this slice over the raspberries, dipped side facing up and press down to seal sandwich together slightly. Carefully flip over and fry the other side of the sandwich for the same amount of time, until golden brown. Repeat with remaining slices of bread, adding another tbsp of butter to the pan for each sandwich. Serve immediately, dusted with a light coat of icing (confectioner's) sugar. You can add maple syrup if you really want to, but it probably doesn't need it.