Monday, October 19, 2015

Baked Croissant Blueberry French Toast

French toast made with croissants - seems like the stars are lining up just right, eh?
We (Tony, Emily and I) first had this at a department brunch during her Notre Dame commencement week and it was memorable enough that we analyzed it and took notes with the hopes of duplication.  Fast forward to this week when I have a Costco-sized pack of croissants and a ladies group that needs lunch - again with the stars!  Unfortunately, neither Emily nor I could locate notes, but I did come up with something pretty nice on the 'net.

French Toast
6 -8 plain croissants, cut in half lengthwise
6 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole milk
1 1/2 cups half-and-half
1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons Grand Marnier
1 orange, zest
1/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar
1 pinch salt

Topping
1 cup pecans
1/4 cup unsalted butter, plus
1 teaspoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups blueberries
1/4 cup packed brown sugar

Blueberry Syrup
1 cup blueberries
1/2 cup pure maple syrup
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice

Directions

  • For the French toast: Butter a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange the croissant halves in the baking dish. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, half-and-half, nutmeg, vanilla, Grand Marnier, orange zest, 1/4 cup brown sugar, white sugar and salt. Pour this mixture over the croissants. Cover the baking dish and chill until all of the liquid is absorbed, at least 2 hours.
  • For the topping: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a shallow baking pan, spread the pecans evenly and toast until fragrant, about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and toss pecans with the 1 teaspoon butter and salt.
  • Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees F. Sprinkle the blueberries evenly over the croissant mixture. Melt 1/4 cup butter with 1/4 cup brown sugar, stirring until the butter is melted. Drizzle this mixture over the baking dish and bake for 20 inutes, or until the liquid from the blueberries is bubbling.
  • For the blueberry syrup: In a small saucepan, cook blueberries and maple syrup over moderate heat until berries have burst, about 3 minutes. Pour syrup through a sieve; stir in the lemon juice.
  • Sprinkle the croissant French toast with toasted pecans. Serve with the syrup.
NOTES:
French Toast
  • I used Orange Curacao instead of Grand Marnier.  It was orange-y, it's a fraction of the cost, and I had it on hand.
  • I also ramped it up with about 1/4 tsp. of orange oil.  No regrets.
  • I sliced the croissants in half and put some blueberries in the middle.  I also sprinkled some brown sugar in there, but it probably wan't necessary.
  • I do remember the original inspiration having some connection with cream cheese in the middle but when I looked at the nutrition facts page of this recipe, I decided that maybe cream cheese wasn't all that necessary after all.
  • 6 Costco bagels = one cake pan.
  • After slicing them in half, re-assemble by giving the tops a 180 degree twist so the thick side of the top ends up on the thin side of the bottom.  Uniform thickness is the goal.
Topping
  • I don't typically bother with unsalted butter.  (Heck, the recipes that use it almost always have you adding salt along the way somewhere anyway.)
  • Because I'm inclined to skim while reading wanted to save time, I didn't bother to toast the pecans, and I just added them right away before baking instead of messing around with that whole "increase the temp" and "drizzle carefully" thing.  I just mixed the pecans, brown sugar and melted butter together and spooned it on the top.
  • I tried Aldi's canned blueberries for this recipe and they were pretty great.  It's not that gloppy pie filling stuff, but real blueberries canned in a light syrup.  (Sorry, I can't find a link.  They were canned, not frozen though.)
Syrup
  • Seriously, don't bother.  It would be too sweet and you've already added enough blueberries by this point anyhow.
One more operation note and one word of caution:
  • I started with these top-side-up soaking up all that egg and nutmeg goodness, but even by morning there were still dry spots on the top of those oversized Costco monstrosities.  I ended up flipping each of them upside down to help (and it worked).  A better strategy would be to start top side down and flip them the next day so the more attractive side is up before baking.  A minor detail since it was smothered in blueberries and pecans anyway, but I'd do it that way next time.
  • Just focus on the health benefits of blueberries and don't follow the link to the nutrition facts box in the original recipe.

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