Eric & I celebrated our 1 year anniversary in our wonderful new home. Since it was Easter Sunday, we already had plans for dinner with the family. I had planned a wonderful intimate breakfast for Eric and me. Our anniversary breakfast was the perfect way to start our day together. Sundays are our favorite day of the week, too. We lounge around in our PJs, relax, sit at the kitchen table & eat, and read the newspaper, too. Eric loves french toast and I love strawberries. So I knew that this recipe would be a success once I came across it. I served it with Almond Champagne from Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, Boarshead Bacon, and more strawberries! If you love strawberries, you're going to love this recipe! Strawberries & Cream Stuffed French Toast
Adapted from Marion Cunningham's The Breakfast Book & seen on Inn Cuisine
6 (approximately 2″ wide) slices artisan-style French bread *I used Cuban bread*
4 ounces cream cheese (room temperature)
4 ounces Mascarpone cheese (room temperature)
1 tablespoon powdered sugar (plus more for garnish)
6-8 fresh plump, large strawberries (plus more for garnish)
1 cup buttermilk
3 large eggs
1 level tablespoon white sugar
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest (optional)
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) butter
1. Laying each (2″ wide) slice of bread on its edge lengthwise, create a *pocket* by slicing through the middle of each piece but stopping as you near the opposite crust, so as to create a single, hinged piece (much like a clam shell). DO NOT SCOOP OUT ANY OF THE BREAD. Do this for all 6 slices until you have created 6 pieces, each with a hinged *pocket*. Set aside.
2. In a medium-sized bowl, mix cream cheese, Mascarpone cheese, and powdered sugar until well blended. Set aside. *I added 1 tsp of vanilla extract*
3. Slice 6-8 ripe, large strawberries to desired thickness.
4. Opening the *pocket* of each piece of bread, begin scooping and smoothing the cream cheese, Mascarpone, and powdered sugar mixture into each, creating a thick layer of cream in all. Following the same procedure, lay 1 row of sliced strawberries on top of each layer of cream, slightly overlapping the berries as you go. When you are finished, each *pocket* of bread should contain a single layer of cream and a single layer of strawberries. Set aside.
5. In a medium-sized oval or rectangular dish, mix buttermilk, eggs, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, salt and lemon zest with a whisk until blended. Melt (and spread) 2 tablespoons of butter in a 12″ skillet over medium heat.
6. Dip (don’t soak) each stuffed piece of bread into the buttermilk and egg batter using tongs, taking care to cover both sides and the edges. Drain slightly before setting each piece into the moderate skillet containing melted butter. 7. Frying no more than 3 pieces at a time, flip each piece over after the bottom reaches a light, golden brown. Continue frying until second side turns a light, golden brown as well. Keep cooked pieces of French toast warm in a 250 degree F oven while you continue cooking the remaining pieces of stuffed French toast.
8. When all the pieces of stuffed French toast have been cooked, place each on individual serving plates and dust lightly with powdered sugar. Review: The creaminess from the cream cheese mixture was a perfect combo for the the french toast. It reminded us of the Pain Perdu breakfast served at Mimi's Cafe. I also made a strawberry puree to drizzle on top instead of using maple syrup. It was truly a sweet & memorable anniversary breakfast!