When it comes to French toast, Keith Williamson, executive chef of Datz in Tampa, Florida, prefers custardy slices of challah bread coated in crackling, hard sugar. This creme brulee French toast takes him back to when he was a child. “Nothing reminds me of home and family as much as a simple, hearty French toast,” says Williamson. “It warms the soul and fills your heart with breakfast guilty pleasure.” Don’t forget the brulee torch, though—that’s what makes this dessert-inspired French toast recipe so impressive. Torches are available at many local retailers and online at very reasonable prices. You could also just place the creme brulee French toast under preheated broiler, sugar side up, until it's golden brown and caramelized.
Creme Brulee French Toast
For the egg wash
¾ cup half & half
1 teaspoon cinnamon
½ tablespoon vanilla extract
For the Bavarian cream
1 cup sugar
¾ cup all-purpose flour
¾ teaspoon fine salt
3 cups milk
3 egg yolks
2 tablespoons butter
2 tablespoons vanilla
½ cup whipping cream
For the toast
8 slices challah bread, 1-inch thick
2 tablespoons butter
For the brulee topping
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
How to Make It
Make the egg wash. Combine the eggs, half & half, cinnamon, and vanilla extract into a bowl and mix until well blended.
Make the Bavarian cream. Mix sugar, flour, and salt into a medium saucepan and whisk. Add milk in gradually and mix well.
Whisk egg yolks in a separate bowl. Add to the pan and mix until well combined.
Bring it to a boil over medium-high heat and stir constantly until the mixture is thick as pudding. Remove from the heat.
Add butter and vanilla to the pan and stir until mixed and butter is melted. Place the custard mixture in the fridge and let cool.
In a separate bowl, whip a half cup of heavy whipping cream until it forms soft peaks. Fold the whipping cream into the custard mix.
Make the toast. Preheat griddle to 350°F.
Add a bit of butter to a small pan over medium heat.
Dip both sides of challah bread into the egg wash, shaking off excess.
Once the butter has melted, cook each side of the challah until golden brown, approximately 3 minutes on each side. Remove from the pan.
Slice two pieces of French toast diagonally and shingle on plate. Slather the Bavarian Cream between each slice of bread. Garnish with fresh strawberries, or whatever fruits are in season, and sprinkle with powdered sugar.
Make the brulee topping. After French toast is browned on both sides, sprinkle sugar on one side of the toast. With a torch, brulee the sugar until golden brown. (If a brulee torch is not available, place under preheated broiler, sugar side up, until sugar is golden brown and caramelized.)