When it comes to indulgent breakfast options, few dishes can match the delightful fusion of flavors and textures found in creme brulee French toast. This delectable twist on a beloved classic takes the silky richness of creme brulee and combines it with the comforting familiarity of French toast.
The origin of this indulgent breakfast emerged as a creative variation of two beloved dishes: creme brulee and French toast. Creme brulee, a classic French dessert consisting of a rich custard base topped with a layer of caramelized sugar, has been enjoyed for centuries. French toast, on the other hand, did not originate in France as it has its roots in ancient Rome (circa 300 A.D.), with variations of soaked bread cooked on a hot surface appearing in various cultures throughout history.
This food fusion likely occurred when innovative chefs and home cooks sought to infuse the flavors and textures of creme brulee into the comforting breakfast favorite, French toast.
Although it is unclear who invented this dish, it is at least several decades old as the earliest mention of “creme brulee French toast” on the internet is from a Hartford Courant article from November 1996 detailing Paula Abdul’s private wedding reception.
Over time, this delightful twist on French toast has gained popularity and has become a sought-after item in brunch menus and breakfast establishments worldwide. The combination of the silky custard, crispy caramelized sugar crust, and the familiar comfort of French toast has made this rendition of French toast a celebrated breakfast treat enjoyed by food enthusiasts around the globe.
Crafting the custard
At the core of any exceptional creme brulee French toast lies a velvety, luxurious custard. Begin by whisking together eggs, cream, milk, and a touch of sugar. The cream and milk provide the necessary richness, while the sugar subtly sweetens the custard. For an added layer of flavor, consider incorporating a hint of vanilla extract or the scraped seeds from a vanilla bean. Additionally, popular recipes include a touch of Grand Marnier or Amaretto for extra depth. Allow the custard to rest, allowing the flavors to meld together harmoniously.
The best bread for creme brulee French toast
Choosing the right bread is crucial to achieving the desired texture. Opt for a type of bread with a fairly firm crust and a tender, airy interior. (Slightly stale bread works great.) The following are excellent choices, as their delicate yet sturdy structure can withstand the soaking process without becoming soggy:
- French baguette
Slice the bread into thick, generous portions, ensuring that each slice absorbs the custard evenly.
Soaking to perfection
The secret to achieving a harmonious blend of flavors lies in the soaking process. Dip each slice of bread into the custard, allowing it to absorb the liquid while retaining its structural integrity. Be mindful not to soak the bread for too long, as it can result in a mushy consistency. The goal is to achieve a beautifully golden crust while maintaining a moist, custardy interior.
Cooking with precision
To impart a delightful caramelization, cook the soaked bread on a buttered griddle or skillet over medium heat. This process will create a tantalizing caramelized crust, reminiscent of the iconic brulee layer in the classic dessert. Take care not to rush the cooking process, as patience will reward you with a wonderfully crispy exterior and a warm, custard-filled center. Flip the toast gently, allowing each side to acquire an even, golden brown hue.
Creating the sugar coating
To pay homage to the spirit of creme brulee, the star of this rendition lies in the caramelized sugar crust. Sprinkle a thin layer of granulated sugar over the cooked side of each toast, using a culinary torch to apply heat. Move the torch in a circular motion, ensuring even caramelization and the formation of a delicate, crackling shell. Exercise caution during this step, as the caramelized sugar can become hot and potentially burn.
Where to find creme brulee French toast
Looking for a place that serves this indulgent dish? Many brunch spots with a French flare have creme brulee French toast on the menu. Check out this interactive map to find a spot near you!
How to make creme brulee French toast
Now that you understand the components of this sweet dish, you’ll need specific instructions on how to make it. Follow this simple recipe to enjoy this rich and creamy dish for your next breakfast!
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 slices of brioche or challah bread (about 1-inch thick)
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar (for caramelizing)
- optional: 1 teaspoon Grand Marnier or Amaretto
- In a mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, heavy cream, milk, granulated sugar, vanilla extract and Grand Marnier/Amaretto (if desired) until well combined. Set aside.
- Preheat a griddle or a large skillet over medium heat.
- Dip each slice of bread into the custard mixture, allowing it to soak for a few seconds on each side. Make sure the bread is evenly coated but not overly saturated.
- Melt a tablespoon of butter on the preheated griddle or skillet. Place the soaked bread slices on the griddle and cook for about 3-4 minutes per side, or until golden brown and crispy. Repeat the process with the remaining bread slices, adding more butter as needed.
- Once all the French toast slices are cooked, transfer them to serving plates.
- Sprinkle a thin and even layer of granulated sugar over the cooked side of each slice.
- Using a culinary torch, carefully caramelize the sugar by moving the flame in a circular motion over the sugar-coated surface until it melts and turns golden brown. Be cautious while using the torch and keep a safe distance from the flame.
- Allow the caramelized sugar to cool and harden for a minute or two before serving.
If you don't have a culinary torch, place the sugar-coated French toast slices under a broiler for a few minutes until the sugar caramelizes. Keep a close eye on them to prevent burning.
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By skillfully blending the velvety custard, selecting the perfect bread, and expertly caramelizing the sugar crust, you can create a breakfast experience that transcends the ordinary. So, satisfy your culinary curiosity and allow the combination of flavors in creme brulee French toast to delight your palate, one exquisite bite at a time.