Monday, June 21, 2010

As Good As Dessert: Strawberry Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast

For many years now I have been a big fan of going out to breakfast. For many people dinner, or maybe even lunch, seems like the more obvious choice. But a good breakfast is a great way to start off a Saturday or Sunday with friends, fueling up before any activities you have planned. 

Plus your more inclined to follow up with something active, which is always nice following a big meal. It also doesn't hurt that I live in a neighborhood with almost universal mimosa specials all weekend.

One of my biggest breakfast weaknesses has become french toast. But not just ANY french toast, not your average french toast. Fancy french toast is what calls to me. 

Crunchy french toast. Stuffed french toast. Banana bread french toast. When I see items like this on the menu I am helpless. I cannot resist. I must have it.

So when making a mimosa brunch at my place, I knew I wanted to put a great french toast dish on the menu.  Originally I planned to make a cinnamon baked-style french toast. But checking out recipes, nothing called to me. And then I got inspired-

French toast, stuffed not with simple cream cheese but cream cheese dressed up to resemble cheesecake. And topped with a delicious strawberry spread. And made with sourdough bread, because I love the way sourdough french toast balances sweet topping. (It's the only french toast I will ever top with syrup.)

Strawberry Cheesecake Stuffed French Toast
Recipe makes 6 servings
(the filling and topping can be made ahead and stored in the fridge for a quick breakfast assembly)

For the Filling:
8oz. Cream Cheese
2 Tbsp Sour Cream
5 Tbsp Powdered Sugar
½ Tbsp Lemon Juice

Soften the cream cheese.

In a medium bowl combine all ingredients, whisking together until smooth.

Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.

For the Topping:
1 cup Mashed Strawberries
1 cup Sugar
¼ tsp Salt
1/3 cup Water
2 Tbsp cornstarch (I used 3 and thought this was too much, so I am adjusting the final recipe. Your topping should be thinner then mine, which was more of a spread.)
¼ tsp Vanilla Extract

In a medium saucepan combine cornstarch, salt, and sugar.

Add water and mashed strawberries, stir to dissolve the dry ingredients as much as possible (there should be not large clumps).

Heat over medium heat until it begins to bubble. Continue heating for 2 more minutes.

Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract.

Allow to cool, refrigerate until ready to use.

1 Loaf Sourdough Bread: I recommend a good quality sourdough that is not too crusty, and a loaf will be much easier to work with then a boule
3 Eggs
1/3 cup Milk

Beat together eggs and milk, set aside.

Start heating a large skillet over medium heat and preheat oven to 350°.

Cut 6 thick slices, approx. 1-1/4” from the loaf of sourdough.

Cut an opening in each slice, leaving one edge intact.

Fill the open middle of each slice with cream cheese mixture.

When pan is hot, spray with cooking spray or swipe with a stick of butter.

Dip each stuffed slice in egg mixture, or spread a layer of the egg mixture over each side.

Cook slices in hot pan until golden brown (about 5 min), gently pressing down if necessary to cook evenly. Do not overcrowd pan.

When the first side is golden brown flip and cook second side.

When second side is cooked, transfer to a baking sheet and put in preheated oven to cook for an additional 8-10min. This will help to warm filling thru and cook any of the egg mixture on the sides of the stuffed slices that did not fry in the pan.

When filling is starting to turn golden and/or leaking from slices, remove from oven and transfer to plates.

Cover with strawberry topping and serve immediately.

It's safe to say we were all glad I thought up this little concoction. They were delicious. I only made 4, so there was leftover filling and topping. That worked out great the next day spread on some croissants.

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