Melted Ice Cream French Toast Turns Tragedy Into Joy
It happens to the best of us. Eager to get back to our Veronica Mars binge, you forget to put the pint of ice cream back in the freezer, only to discover it an hour later it’s turned to soup on the counter. You set up a great sundae bar for a party, and by the time you go to tidy up, you have a gallon tub with an ice cream burg floating in the middle of a melted sea. That impatient near-midnight need for a sweet fix resulting in an overly ambitious microwave softening, rendering our pint more liquid than solid.
Melted ice cream hurts my feelings. You know you can’t refreeze it because it will become a colony of ice crystals with wan flavor. The rational part of you knows that drinking it down like a milkshake will end in a tummyache of regret, but dumping it down the sink seems just too awful and wasteful to bear. So how do we think of these thick puddles of ex-ice cream as an ingredient in something else?
While I have been known, on occasion, to make what I call the Lazy Girl Anglaise, just letting good vanilla ice cream melt and using it as a sauce for a cobbler or poached fruit (pro-tip, people!), I wanted something more—a way to resurrect accidentally melted ice cream, no matter what the flavor.
Enter Melted Ice Cream French Toast.
French toast is a really easy recipe. Some eggs, some dairy, maybe a bit of sugar or spice, old bread. A good soak in a fast, raw custard, fried in butter, and served with powdered sugar or jam or syrup. By replacing the milk or cream in the custard with melted ice cream, you get a punch of great flavor, and the satisfaction of salvaging what would have been wasted. It isn’t just turning lemons into lemonade—it’s turning them into lemon cream pie. Pretty much any ice cream flavor works great here. Vanilla, strawberry and chocolate are all classic; rum raisin or butter pecan get very breakfasty very quickly; and coffee is such a no-brainer I hesitate even to mention it.
Melted Ice Cream French Toast
4 slices staled or dry bread
2 eggs, beaten
1/2 cup melted ice cream, any flavor, strained of any chunks or bits (which can be reserved for garnish if you like)
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon of any extra spices or flavors you might want (think cinnamon, vanilla, lemon zest or the like, and if you are using coffee ice cream, a bit of espresso powder really ups the ante)
2 tablespoons butter
1. In a large shallow baking dish, mix the eggs and melted ice cream and salt until they are well combined into a sort of custard. If you want to add any spices that might enhance, add a pinch now. Chocolate ice cream loves a little hit of cayenne for heat, or cinnamon for Mexican flair, or both if you are feeling sassy. Fruit flavored ice creams love nutmeg or allspice, caramel likes a bit of curry powder. Vanilla can take nearly any spice you want to throw at it. Lay the slices of bread in the custard, wait a minute or so, then flip over. Let rest for 10-15 minutes to full soak up the custard. There may be some mix left over depending on how thick and dry your bread slices are.
2. In a large nonstick skillet melt the butter over medium high heat. When the butter stops foaming, slide in your bread slices and cook until golden brown and slightly crispy on the edges. This might take 2 minutes or so. Flip and cook the second side to equal doneness. If the toast is well browned but still feels squishy in the middle, turn the heat to low to finish cooking the middle.
3. Serve hot with butter and powdered sugar, jam, syrup, or, if you dare, a scoop of ice cream.