Friday, February 17, 2012

Texas French Toast

Before we started dating, The Texan boasted to me that he knew how to make a mean batch of French toast. He warned that it had a gazillion calories a slice. I was unfazed. He promised to make it for me after the holidays.

On our first date, he asked conspiratorially, "Wanna know the secret ingredient in my French toast?" My mind raced as I considered the possibilities: An exotic spice? Syrup in the batter? A special type of bread?

He leaned in, grinned, and divulged, "Cap'n Crunch cereal!"


He'd come across the recipe, which was featured on Food Network's Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, online. It also features 2 cups of heavy cream, a stick of butter, and 6 eggs. Sounded like the perfect way to start the morning. That is, if it were our last morning on earth, since the French toast would probably send us into cardiac arrest.

As we planned the meal, we discussed ways to make it slightly less lethal. I suggested using milk instead of cream, but he wasn't sure whether he should gradually step down from cream to half-and-half, or just jump way down the fat ladder to whole milk. He chose the latter, but not because he thinks my ideas are so great. No, it was a perfect stranger's comment on the recipe, saying she'd used whole milk and it turned out fine, that convinced him it was safe to do. In all fairness, though, he did use my suggestion of cooking spray combined with a little butter to grease the pan in place of the stick of butter the recipe calls for.

Normally, the Texan uses Texas toast for this recipe. Which you totally could have guessed. But he has this bread machine that he thinks is pretty darn cool. And it is, I must admit. For the occasion, he made two loaves of beer bread: one loaf two days before The Breakfast Event, and the other, one day before. We cut both loaves into Texas-sized slices, and drowned and dredged them in all kinds of goodies. As we ate, we realized we preferred the day-old slices, as they seemed to have better absorption of the cream-I-mean-milk mixture, creating a tastier, softer French toast.

The Texan was in charge of the cooking, firing up not one but two pans for the event. And I do mean firing: a few minutes into the process, I noticed a slightly smoky smell in the kitchen. I fanned the back door a few times. The smoke increased. I opened a window. The smoke detector went off. His roommate and I opened many windows, and I checked the flames under the pans. They were Very High.

Because that's what men do.

There is already about a week's worth of sugar in the Cap'n Crunch coating, so maple syrup is not really necessary (nor advised). I put some frozen raspberries in a saucepan, along with a spoonful or two of raspberry jam, and cooked them to form a syrupy topping for the French toast. We put a few dollops of whipped cream next to the raspberry sauce, and one particular roommate may have created a smiley face or two on her breakfast even though she is no longer 8 years old. Clearly, she knew she might keel over from this meal, and wanted to make it memorable.

And it was.

Texas-Sized French Toast

6 eggs
5 TBSP sugar (you could cut some or all of this out)
2 C heavy cream (or whole milk)
1  tsp vanilla extract
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 C (1 stick) butter
1 box Cap'n Crunch cereal
1 loaf thick toast 

1. Crush cereal in a resealable bag or baking dish, but do not turn the entire thing into dust. Spread cereal into baking dish or large plate.
2. Combine eggs, sugar, cream or milk, vanilla, and spices in a bowl large enough to fit a slice of toast.
3. Preheat pan(s) or griddle, using medium heat. Coat pan with cooking spray and a thin pat of butter.
4. Meanwhile, soak pieces of toast in milk mixture, 30 seconds per side, making sure to moisten edges of bread. Dredge in crushed cereal.
5. Cook slices for 3 minutes per side, or until browned but not burned (sugar in cereal will burn if heat is too high). Keep in warm oven until ready to serve.
6. Top with raspberry sauce or fresh fruit and whipped cream, if desired.

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