Cuban French Toast
This unusual version of French toast has its derivatives from Spain, and is really a scrumptious dessert. The Frangelico-laced mascarpone filling the brioche softens inside the bread as it fries. Chef Veloso serves it with spiced honey and ice cream, a treat in itself. The “turron” referred to in the recipe is the Spanish word for the candy more familiarly known as nougat.
- Spiced Honey
- Honey - 3/4 cup
- Zest of 1 lemon
- Zest of 1 orange
- Zest of 1 lime
- Whole Cloves - 5
- Cinnamon Stick - 1
- Star Anise - 3
- Chipotle Pepper - 1
- Cheese Filling
- Mascarpone Cheese - 8 ounces
- Cream Cheese - 8 ounces
- Frangelico - 3 tablespoons
- Black Cherry Extract - 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
- Sugar - 1-1/2 teaspoons
- Turron Ice Cream
- Skim Milk - 1 cup
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 2 cups
- Vanilla Beans - 1/2
- Nougat - 3-1/2 ounces
- Egg Yolks - 6
- Sugar - 2 tablespoons
- French Toast
- Brioche - 1 loaf (or challah bread)
- Eggs - 1
- Heavy (whipping) cream - 1/2 cup
- Orange Liqueur - 2 tablespoons (or Frangelico or Amaretto)
- Ground cinnamon - 1/2 teaspoon
- Grated Nutmeg - 1/2 teaspoon
- Vanilla Extract - 1/2 teaspoon
- Butter - 2 tablespoons
To make the spiced honey: In a small saucepan combine the ingredients and cook over low heat, stirring occasionally, for 10 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat, strain, and let cool. The honey is best prepared a day in advance, allowing the flavors to develop. When ready to serve, reheat over very low heat.
To make the filling: In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a wire ship or with a stainless steel bowl and wooden spoon, combine all ingredients. Beat until smooth and fluffy.
To make the ice cream: In a large saucepan combine the milk, heavy cream, vanilla bean, and turron and bring just to a boil over medium-high heat. Remove the pan from the heat, cover, and let rest 15 to 20 minutes. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a balloon whisk, whisk the egg yolks with the sugar until it forms a ribbon. In a steady stream, gradually whisk the cream mixture into the egg mixture (adding no more than one third of the hot cream at a time). Return this mixture to the saucepan and cook over medium-low heat, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon (180 F on a candy thermometer). Do not let the custard boil. Strain the custard through a fine meshed sieve into a metal bowl. Cover and refrigerate, stirring occasionally, until cold. Pour into the canister of an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer’s directions.
To make the French toast: Make a lengthwise, horizontal opening in the brioche loaf, using the handle end of a wooden spoon to help hollow out the loaf’s center. Spoon the cheese filling into a pastry bag fitted with a large plain tip and pipe the filling into the pocket in the brioche. Cut the filled brioche into 6 equal portions.
In a flat-bottomed dish just large enough to hold the bread slices on one layer, whisk together the eggs, cream, liqueur, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. Add the stuffed bread slices and soak, turning once or twice, until the custard is partially absorbed. In a 9- to 10-inch nonstick skillet, heat the butter over moderate heat until the foam subsides, and cook the stuffed brioche pieces 5 to 7 minutes on each side, or until golden and crisp. Transfer the French toast with a slotted spatula to paper towels to drain briefly. Place a slice on each serving plate. Add a scoop of ice cream and a spoonful of warm spiced honey to each plate.