Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Crème Brûlèe French Toast

I am, for obvious reasons, a huge advocate for international travel. Sure it's expensive, the flights are long and uncomfortable, and the cluster-f***k that is the world we live in has made getting through airport security less like a mildly annoying, yet necessary evil, to more like an aggravated assault and invasion of privacy with a dash of sexual harassment thrown in for good measure. The logistics of travel undoubtedly suck, but these minor inconveniences--well minor being a relative term depending on the strength of the U.S. dollar--are by and large worth the rewards received for purposely experiencing a piece of the world outside of home. There's only one aspect of travel that I find to be almost unbearable, and that is of course, the return home. 

I know home is where my family, friends, and the love of my life, Kona, all happen to reside. Home is where the heart is, blah blah fudgity blah. I get that. But on each of my last two trips, when the time came to return home, I just. wasn't. diggin'. it. And when I did arrive home, I found myself attempting to satay my  despair with stuff. Last year, after my 15 day money spending extravaganza , when I came home, I bought a love seat, among other things. This year, I was more restrained in my retail therapy, but of course I would be, having purchased a DSLR camera before my trip. So when I got back, and tried to pretend that I wasn't unhappy as all hell about it, I ate anything and everything that looked or sounded good. This cycle of "eating my feelings" is exactly what led me to purchasing an $8 loaf of brioche [yes, you read that correctly] from the only bread shop in the city that sells it [only on the weekends, I might add] and then investing the better part of an hour making this high saddity french toast with a bunch of fancy accent marks in its title. On the upside, this dish was totally worth the splurge, but for the record, I would still rather be in Spain, french toast be damned. 

I really need to invest in some ink cartridges for my printer, so that when I decide to make outlandishly awesome dishes as seen on better food blogs than mine, I won't have to waste precious table space with my laptop, in order to read the recipe. But that will probably happen next to never, so I'll just settle on wishing for a bigger place.

Melting sugar for caramel is absurdly easy. I don't know why I thought it would be more difficult.

Pouring molten sugar onto french toasts with one hand while simultaneously taking a picture of said action with a not-so-light DSLR in the other hand is, however, not absurdly easy. I'm actually really surprised I didn't burn myself, because I'm burned proned, and I would've allowed that to happen before I dropped my camera. 

As you can imagine, trying to take a photo of superfreakindeliciouslyawesome crème brûlèed french toasts before taking a big bite out of them is next to impossible. And for the record, I know these are terribly bad pictures, which is why I almost didn't post this recipe. But these were way too much work and way too delicious not to blog about. You're just going to have to deal.

And if you'll notice my Barcelona coffee mug in the background. It's not brunch without coffee in my barca mug. Nom Nom folks!

Crème Brûlèe French Toast (adapted from the genius that is Smitten Kitchen)

1/2 loaf brioche sliced thickly
1 cup organic half & half
2 large eggs
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 Tsp fine sea salt or table salt
2 Tsp vanilla extract
2/3 cup granulated sugar
Cut bread into 1 1/2-inch thick, generous slices. Whisk together half and half, eggs, sugar, salt, and vanilla extract.
Preheat oven to 325. Arrange bread slices on the smallest rimmed tray that will fit them in one layer (encourages maximum absorption) pour custard over slices. Allow them to absorb the custard for 30 minutes, turning the slices over at one point to ensure they’re soaking it up evenly. 
Line a baking sheet with parchment paper [I learned in this very instance that parchment paper is a worthy investment, because there’s nothing like scraping $8 bread off your cookie sheet to inspire a cost benefit analysis]. Transfer custard-soaked slices to prepared sheet, arranging them with some space between each to avoid making one French mega-toast. Bake French toast slices for 30 to 35 minutes, flipping halfway through. When you can insert a small knife into the center of a slice and twisted ever-so-slightly does not release any wet custard, remove from heat. Keep warm until ready to serve.
The good stuff, the Caramel: 
Transfer french toasts to a serving platter. Melt remaining 2/3 cup sugar in a small, heavy, completely dry saucepan over moderate heat, stirring with a small spoon until fully melted and the color of dark honey. Working quickly, pour caramel over a slice of toast, spreading it thinly and evenly with an offset spatula and repeat with the remaining toasts. The caramel will continue to deepen slightly in color, so be sure to work quickly but carefully. 

**Caution** Do NOT touch the caramel before it hardens, lest you want to burn the living daylights out yourself. 

Serve with berries and if you’re feeling fancy, freshly whipped cream. Obviously maple syrup would be overkill, and would immediately result in you developing type 2 diabetes. God don’t like greedy. 

**Hot water will melt all hardened caramel and make your clean up job easy. Simply soak your pot/spoon/spatula and all will melt off.]


  1. Mmmmmmmm!  I saw this on Smitten Kitchen and fell in love.  I had no idea where I'd get that bread, though.  Glad you found it.

  2. I am obsessed with smitten kitchen. She makes me want to cook things that I would NEVER cook. Likea  dobos torte. Oh I can't wait to move to a bigger space where such things are possible. I'm pretty sure there's an uppity bakery in wilmington that would sell brioche, but I know Chala is also a good substitute and more easier to find :)

  3. I am obsessed with smitten kitchen. She makes me want to cook things that I would NEVER cook. Likea  dobos torte. Oh I can't wait to move to a bigger space where such things are possible. I'm pretty sure there's an uppity bakery in wilmington that would sell brioche, but I know Chala is also a good substitute and more easier to find :)

  4. These might just have to make an appearance this weekend. YUM!

  5. Is it wrong that an 8.00 loaf of bread sounds OK to me? Maybe because I just dropped 15.00 on some italian raspberry cookies (my fave from a little shop in NH). Be careful with the DSLR....I have had a few bad encounters with some batter and mine;) they are hard to clean.

  6. I fully support that idea :)

  7. Well after paying $15 oncookies, I guess $8 doesn't sound so bad. But I'm no
    better, I spent a total of $20 in that bakery that day...we're foodies, we
    know what we like, and willing to pay for it :). I'll be extra cautious with
    my DSLR, no batter accidents, I promise!

  8. Dave at eRecipeCardsJuly 26, 2011 at 2:38 PM

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  9. thank you! I will definitely take advantage of this opportunity :)

  10. You have classy tastes - this looks delicious and for the first meal of the day too :D

    Choc Chip Uru
    Latest: Fresh Fruit Tart



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