You know me by now. Breakfast, Brunch, Dinner, there are really no big differences when it comes to a great special casserole. Weekends are meant to be spent with the ones you love. And in my home, that usually involves food. Good food. And lots of it. But it has to be something everyone can eat at the same time. Family bonding and storytelling happens around the table and I like to be in the middle of it. This Creme Brûlée French Toast Casserole can be put together in a jiffy and finished while someone (other than you) sets the table. Baked in under an hour you will have loads of time to tell the grands all those blackmail stories of the days when their parents were little!
Creme Brulee French Toast Casserole
- ½ cup butter
- 1 cup brown sugar
- 2 Tbsp. corn syrup
- 1 pound bread French, challah, or croissants
- 8 large eggs
- 1¼ cups milk
- 1¼ cups cream
- 1 Tbsp. vanilla
- ¼ tsp. salt
- 6 large yolks
- 1/4 cup – 1/2 cup granulated sugar if you use the whipped cream or mascarpone cheese then use more sugar
- 1 teaspoon of vanilla
- 4 Tablespoon of Marsala wine ** traditional
- 1 teaspoon lemon or orange zest optional
- 4 oz or 1/2 cup whipped cream or 4 tablespoons whipped mascarpone cheese **optional
- In a small saucepan cook the butter, brown sugar and corn syrup over moderate heat, stirring frequently, until smooth and tawny. Pour the mixture in an even layer into a 12"x 8" baking dish. (You can use a slightly larger backing dish but adjust the cooking time.)
- Tear up bread into ragged chunks or cut into cubes about 1" in size (I cut). Add all the bread on top of sugar mixture and press lightly so the bread compresses a bit. Don't squish more than about ¼ of the air out.
- In a medium bowl or giant measuring cup with a spout whisk together the eggs, milk, cream, vanilla, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over the bread. Cover the casserole with cling wrap and refrigerate a few hours or overnight.
- Preheat oven to 350 F and bring bread to room temperature.
- Bake casserole, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden, 35 to 40 minutes. The simplest method to check for doneness is with a digital thermometer. The casserole is ready when the internal temperature is 160.
- Serve hot French toast immediately with fresh strawberries, butter, favorite syrup or whipped cream. It looks prettiest when pieces are served upside down.
- First, fill a large bowl with water and ice and set this aside. Set up a double boiler on your stove top and make sure that the bowl that is sitting on top is not touching the hot water below in the pot. Add the yolks to the bowl and turn the heat on medium high and start whisking. The yolks will slowly get warmer, so keep on whisking and add a little sugar at a time until it is all incorporated. Continue to whip until the sabayon is very pale and registers 160°F on your thermometer. If you do not have a thermometer, you can tell when the sabayon has reached that temperature when you touch it with your finger and it feels very warm/almost hot, but not scalding hot. Make sure you continue whisking so as not to cook the yolks.
- Cook at this temperature for a few minutes and then carefully remove the bowl from the double boiler and set it into the larger bowl that you have set aside that is half filled with ice water. Continue to whip until completely cool and ribbons form as it falls from the whisk.
- Add the marsala wine or liquor of your choice plus the vanilla and serve immediately or cover and set in the refrigerator…but use within 2 hours. If you need to make this ahead of time, you can fold in some whipped mascarpone cheese before you cover and put it in the refrigerator. Or you can whip some cream and fold it in to the sauce to lighten it up right before serving.
- Traditionally, sabayon is made with marsala wine, but you can use whatever you like. Many people use rum, brandy, cognac, grand marnier etc…I had both strawberries and orange segments, so I added 4 Tablespoons of grand marnier and 1 teaspoon of orange zest. Whatever you use, just make sure that the flavor of the liquor will compliment the fruit you are using.