All I’ve wanted to do lately is talk about bread. And french toast. And butter. Really I just sit around all day long thinking about soft pillows of bread, spread with butter, and then made into french toast. My mind usually drifts off to all sorts of crazy delicious scenarios that involve me eating nothing but bread. Large mountains of bread. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that, right? Of course that’s totally not really weird for me because I’m always thinking and talking about bread and butter and french toast on a daily basis. Just a normal day in the life of Jonathan Melendez. A few weeks ago I made homemade challah, which actually was the last post and my current addiction. If you think that I can’t eat two entire loaves of challah bread in the span of 24 hours, then you are very much mistaken. You underestimate my love for bread in general. It’s a love affair. I’m only half embarrassed to admit that I can eat two challah loaves in one sitting, but at the same time I’m kind of, sort of, maybe just a little bit, proud of that important unimportant fact. I’m like “Golly oh boy Jon you’re a magician when it comes to eating bread. You should have your own reality show or something!” Then somehow I go off on a tangent, much like I always do, thinking about what the title of my show would be. It would have to be something bread related like “Cutting The Crust with Jonathan Melendez.” “Two Loaves, One Man.” “Oh If I Was A French Baguette…” Clearly I’m still working on the title and the plot of the show, although I know that whatever it is it would involve a lot of bread. I mean like a lot of bread (we’re talking an obscene amount really, so envision with me here). I can live with that. You won’t hear any complaints from me. Unless of course I somehow run out of this supposed “never-ending” bread. In which case, I’d probably just move away slowly from me before I bite you for taking my bread. I’m totally kidding….you wouldn’t take my bread.
I may or may not (let’s be real, we all know I did) have eaten the two loaves of bread from the last post before I could even make this french toast post. Of course I was SO upset that I had to redo this recipe. I mean more bread, really?! Ugh, gosh what a drag. My life is so difficult. Woe is me. I dragged my butt back into the kitchen and made more bread—like I was being forced or couldn’t think of something better to do when we all know it’s all I really wanted to do. How tragic does that sound? Don’t feel bad for me though, I had four loaves of bread. When I finally practiced enough will power to prevent myself from eating the fourth loaf, I turned that last challah into a delicious breakfast and brunch dish. I think you just found an excuse to make breakfast for dinner. I’ll let you take all the credit too as long as you invite me over.
Let’s make the filling for the french toast because that’s the main star of this show. Although it might be tied because the homemade challah we’re using for it (from the last post) is probably the real star of the show. But maybe you don’t have that homemade challah. Maybe you didn’t visit my site before hand and maybe you didn’t make that awesome recipe so now you’re not making this recipe with homemade bread but that’s okay. Store bought bread will do just fine depending on if you don’t have time to make your own. Not having time to make your own is the only excuse I’ll accept for buying the bread.
In a large bowl, add the softened cream cheese. That’s the cream to our pistachio cherry cream.
Mix in the thawed frozen cherries.
**Tip: It’s best to use frozen cherries for this recipe because one, cherries aren’t always in season and two, because the frozen cherries have a bit of natural juice once they thaw, and that juice is essential to the color of our filling.**
Also add the honey.
Add a pinch of salt and fold in the chopped pistachios.
The pistachio picture somehow got lost somewhere out there in the internets. Oops. But fold in pistachios either way.
Once the pistachios are incorporated, you are done with the filling. That’s it. You’re finished. You can give it a try because, you know, you have to make sure it’s not poisoned or anything. Really, you’re just saving people by trying a spoonful of the filling. They owe you a big one.
Let’s start stuffing some french toast, shall we? Cut the homemade challah (that second loaf from our last post). Or cut the store bough challah.
**Note: If you don’t have time to make your own challah, you can just buy a loaf from the store. Or you can spread a bit of filling in between two slices of bread and just sandwich those together.**
If you are using a loaf of challah, you want to cut the loaf into 2-inch thick slices.
Then make a slit down the middle of each slice, creating a pocket for the filling to go into. Don’t cut it all the way though. Make it more like a pocket.
Fill each challah slice with the pistachio cherry cream filling, being generous with the filling in each slice. You want people to be able to see the fillings and not look at the french toast and be like “geeze they must have been running out of fillings because mine doesn’t have any?” Or worse yet, they could say “Where’s the filling? That’s not good. So pack in the filling. Jam it in there. Get it all up in the challah.
Once all the filling has been stuffed into the challah slices, you can lay them out onto a baking sheet and pop them into the freezer or fridge (if you don’t have space in your freezer). Just let them chill while we move onto the next step.
**Tip: It’s important to allow the french toast to chill for a bit so that the filling firms up and doesn’t ooze out when we go to cook the french toast.**
Let’s make some french toast dipping custard milk cream mixture, shall we?
In a shallow dish (it needs to be shallow and wide so you can dip the enormous stuffed bread in there) whisk together the milk and cream.
Then add the eggs and a heaping amount of cinnamon.
It needs to be a heaping amount of cinnamon because one, I love cinnamon with a passion greater than life, and two, because it’s french toast, come on. What’s french toast without cinnamon? That’s not french toast my friends. That’s not french toast.
After I whisked everything together I realized I forgot to add a splash of vanilla. So add a splash of vanilla now, but don’t be like me and forget things.
But anyhow, let’s pretend that in the photo I added vanilla extract. Hmm hm hmm hmm, vanilla is in there. Delicious vanilla. Vanilla makes everything better.
Give it a good whisk. Like you’re whisking and you think you’re done, but you don’t stop, you keep going?
**Note: Make sure you whisk the eggs completely into the milk and cream. There’s nothing worse than dipping your french toast into the egg/milk mixture and having bit of unincorporated egg on it and then you go to cook the french toast and then you end up with cooked egg on top of your french toast. No bueno.**
Okay, so now all the components are ready.
Grab the chilled stuffed challah from the fridge or freezer, where ever you put it to chill.
Begin by heating a heavy skillet (or griddle if you have one) over medium-high heat. Make sure it’s hot. You don’t want to add the french toast to a cold skillet or griddle.
Dip the stuffed challah into the custard, allow to sit for a bit on one side so that it soaks into the bread. Then flip it over and allow to soak for about 30 seconds on the second side. Since the slices are thick you want to take the time to allow the liquid to get all up in the bread. Like a delicious sponge.
Add a pat (and by pat I of course mean a giant heaping ridiculous amount) of butter. Let the butter melt and then swirl around the skillet and then add the soaked stuffed french toast.
Cook the french toast for about 3 to 5 minutes or until golden and evenly browned. Flip and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. You can transfer the cooked french toast onto a baking sheet lined with foil or onto a wire cooling rack.
Since you’ll have to cook the french toast in batches, you can place the cooked french toast in a 250°F oven just to keep them warm while the other slices continue to cook. Be a multi-tasker in the kitchen, but only if you can be safe about it. Don’t catch on fire or something while you wait.
I like to serve about two per person. I know I know, they’re giant pieces of carbs, stuffed with cheese, and sure it can sound like a decadence indulgence but after eating one you’ll definitely want another. So why not just serve yourself the second? I promise not to tell anyone.
You can add a dusting of powered sugar to the french toast pieces. Throw in a few shelled and chopped pistachios. Or of course, if you’re not feeling like being super fancy like me, well then you can just top the french toast very simply with maple syrup. Sure it’s tasty with with powdered sugar and pistachios but it’s also ridiculously insane good with with spiced whipped cream. Something to think about my friends. Something to think about.
The cinnamon and vanilla go hand and in with the cherries and pistachios in this dish. Even if you’re not a fan of either of those flavors, it’s best to just give it a try because I can guarantee you that you’ll find this irresistibly delicious. You’ll probably not want to share and you’ll get erratic and yell at people so that they don’t eat your beloved french toast. What? No? Maybe that’s just me. That’s probably true.
Feel free to stuff the french toast with other flavors. You can mix the cream cheese with raspberries or strawberries or both! If you feel like being super decadent, then you can stuff the french toast with creamy things like peanut butter or nutella. Oh Oh OH, wait, you can stuff it with nutella and sliced bananas. That would be the best thing ever. Well, second best because this pistachio cherry cream stuffed french toast takes the cake. But anyhow, yes, you can fill it with whatever you want to fill it with. Go wild and let your taste buds dictate what you make. That’s the best part of cooking. Just have fun friends. Just have fun.
Pistachio Cherry Cream Stuffed French Toast
We’re taking a classic breakfast dish and bringing it to another level. Just when you thought that french toast couldn’t get any better, with just a dusting of powdered sugar and a drenching of maple syrup, we’ve gone and stuffed the heck out of it and transformed it to a delectable brunch dish that you’ll never want to live without.
yield: 4 servings (8 slices)
- 1 challah loaf, cut into 8 slices (2 inches thick)
- 1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened
- 1 (16 ounce) bag frozen cherries, thawed and drained, 2 tablespoons of juice reserved
- 3 tablespoons honey
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup pistachios, shelled and coarsely chopped
- 1 cup whole milk
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- 3 large eggs
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 3 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- pinch of salt
- unsalted butter for frying
1. In a small bowl, stir together the cream cheese, thawed cherries with 2 tablespoons cherry juice, honey, salt and pistachios. Mix until evenly combined and the mixture turns a light violet hue. Cut a slit down the middle of each challah slice, creating a pocket but not cutting all the way down. Stuff each challah slice with a hearty amount of filling. Transfer the stuffed challah onto a baking sheet and place in the fridge or freezer to chill and firm up, about 30 minutes.
2. Heat a heavy duty skillet or griddle over medium-high heat. In a shallow dish, whisk together the milk, heavy cream, eggs, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and pinch of salt. Dip the stuffed challah into the milk/cream mixture turning every so often to allow the bread to soak up the liquid. Since the slices are pretty thick, make sure they soak up enough liquid. Add a pat of butter into the skillet and melt around. Place the soaked french toast, two pieces at a time (depending on the size of your skillet or griddle) and cook for about 3 to 5 minutes on the first side, or until golden and brown all around. Flip the french toast over and continue to cook for another 3 minutes. Keep the finished toast on a baking sheet in a 250℉ oven while you cook the rest.
3. Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar, a sprinkling of chopped pistachios and of course maple syrup. Enjoy right away!