Thursday, February 03, 2011
Banana Stuffed French Toast
Last week while sick and convalescing in bed, I flipped through some catalogs and cookbooks dreaming of cooking. I spotted this recipe for Banana Stuffed French Toast and knew I had to make it. As soon as I felt better, I ran to the kitchen and fired up the grill (ok, the panini press) and started making Banana Stuffed French Toast. We had (as we usually do) some bananas that were just almost too ripe and I had picked up some Challah bread a few days before which meant it was just the perfect kind of stale for french toast.
This recipe is a bit of a time-suck but the carmelized bananas and soggy yet crisp bread is so perfect. It's worth the effort. It's funny, I used to hate french toast. I worked in a cafeteria in college and made a lot of french toast which I never tried. I did not like it. I was told many times though that I made really good french toast which I did not believe because for me, there was no such thing. I have to say this recipe makes REALLY GOOD FRENCH TOAST! It's really that good.
There is magic in how you stuff the Challah bread with the bananas. It makes them plump and look a bit pita-like. I mean, look at those carmelized bananas peeking out of that bread. It's delicious looking.
The recipe says to use an immersion blender for the egg soak which I originally scoffed at and used my trusty whisk. While you could use your trusty whisk to make this, I do have to recommend the immersion blender. It really mixed up the egg soak, making it just the right consistency once I ditched the whisk.
Again, this recipe recommended using a panini grill to cook the french toast and since I had one, I used one. It's a great time-saver as it cooks both sides of the bread at once. However, I think a grill or a saucepan would work just fine. Just remember to flip!
Banana Stuffed French Toast
adapted from Chef Bryan Voltaggio
2 T unsalted butter
2 T plus 1/2 cup fine granulated sugar
2 T water
3 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
1-lb. loaf day-old challah, cut into 6 slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick
2 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp granulated honey
Seeds from a vanilla bean
1. In large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Slowly add the 2 T granulated sugar and water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture is lightly caramelized, about 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bananas and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool.
2. Cut a slit 2 inches long in one side of each bread slice, cutting 3/4 of the way down. Stuff the bread with the banana mixture.
3. Preheat your grill. I used a panini maker but any type of grill or saute pan will work here.
4. In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, cinnamon, granulated honey, 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and blend with an immersion blender (or whisk). Pour into a baking dish. Soak the bread slices for 3-5 minutes, turning occasionally.
5. Place the bread on the grill and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Remember to flip if you are not using a panini press. Serve with pecan maple syrup and whipped crème fraîche.