Brioche Pain Perdu with Orange-Balsamic Syrup
Pain perdu means “lost bread” -- “lost,” or stale bread that has been saved by using it to make what Americans know as French toast. In this sublime dessert, which the chef adapted from his mother’s recipe, the custard mixture is enlivened with fresh ginger, the syrup is a reduction of balsamic vinegar and orange juice, and the dish is garnished with mango and chocolate sorbets.
- Orange-Balsamic Syrup
- Balsamic Vinegar - one, 28-ounce (1-1/4 cups) bottle
- Fresh Orange Juice - 4 cups
- Pain Perdu
- Brioche Loaf - eight 1/4-inch slices orange-flavored brioche loaf, or challah
- Eggs - 2 large
- Milk - 1 cup
- Vanilla Extract - 1/4 cup
- Cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon
- Fresh Ginger - 1/2 teaspoon, minced
- Pinch of salt
- Unsalted Butter - 6 tablespoons
- Candied orange zest (recipe follows)
- Mango and chocolate sorbets (optional)
- Candied Orange Zest (Makes 1 cup)
- Whole Oranges - 8, scrubbed
- Sugar - 1/3 cup
To make the syrup: In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the vinegar and juice and cook to reduce to 1-1/2 cups, 30 to 40 minutes. This can be made up to 2 weeks in advance and stored in an airtight jar in the refrigerator.
To make the pain perdu: Trim the crusts and cut each slice in half on the diagonal. Let the slices sit in the air for 10 to 15 minutes. In a large shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and salt. Place the bread slices in the milk mixture, turn to coat both sides, and allow them to absorb the liquid for 2 to 3 minutes.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 2 tablespoons of the butter. When it foams, add as many bread slices as will fit comfortably in the pan. Brown until golden, turning once, a total of about 2 to 2 minutes per side. Remove with a slotted metal spatula, drain on a paper towel, and repeat with remaining butter and bread. Keep warm.
To serve: Place 2 pieces of pain perdu on each serving plate, overlapping them slightly. Sprinkle a little candied orange zest over each plate and add a small scoop of each sorbet. Drizzle the syrup over and around the bread toast.
Candied Orange Zest
Using a vegetable peeler, remove the zest from the oranges; you should have about 1 cup of zest. Trim the edges of each piece of zest and cut each piece into fine julienne. In a medium saute pan or skillet over medium to medium-high heat, combine 1/3 cup sugar and the zest. Toss the mixture, shaking the pan constantly, until the sugar caramelizes onto the zest, about 5 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a tray to dry for about 3 to 4 hours. Store in an airtight jar.