Brioche French Toast with Brown Sugar Cranberry Syrup

Christmas Breakfast! Oh yes, you must........because I can't begin to describe how divine this tastes! What else can you expect from Zoe Nathan? Something magical happens when you use brioche bread to make French toast.  Have you noticed? Nice thick slices soaked in eggs and cream. So extravagant and so perfect for breakfast on Christmas.
You can make the syrup the day ahead (this syrup is wonderful with anything, be sure to try it) and the bread can also be made in advance and frozen. Use your own recipe for the brioche loaf....mine will be in an upcoming post. Or hopefully, you have a French bakery nearby that has a lovely loaf of brioche! 

Brioche French Toast with Brown Sugar Cranberry Syrup
From Huckleberry by Zoe Nathan

For the cranberry sauce:
2 cups fresh or frozen cranberries, thawed and chopped
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
4 large strips of orange zest
1/2 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1/4 cup heavy cream

For the French toast:
6 large eggs
3/4 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 tablespoons packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon salt
Unsalted butter, for greasing
Twelve 1-inch-thick slices of brioche (1 pound)

The cranberry sauce:
In a medium saucepan, combine the chopped cranberries with the light brown sugar, orange zest, salt and 2 tablespoons of water and bring to a boil. Simmer over moderately high heat, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries are soft and the sauce is ruby-colored, 3 to 5 minutes. Remove the cranberry mixture from the heat and whisk in the butter and heavy cream. Cook over moderately low heat, whisking, until the butter is completely melted and the sauce is hot, about 3 minutes. Discard the orange zest. Keep the cranberry sauce warm over very low heat. (The cranberry sauce can be refrigerated for up to 3 days. Reheat gently before serving.)

The French toast:
Preheat the oven to 225°. In a large baking dish, whisk the eggs with the heavy cream, light brown sugar, vanilla extract and salt. Heat a large cast-iron griddle and lightly butter it. Working in batches, dip half of the brioche slices in the egg mixture, turning them, until they are well-moistened. Transfer the soaked brioche to the griddle and cook over moderate heat, turning once, until the French toast is golden and cooked through, about 4 minutes. Transfer the French toast to a baking sheet, cover loosely with aluminum foil and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining brioche slices. Serve the French toast with the cranberry sauce. The recipe suggests topping with whipped cream, but it's just too much. A sprinkling of confectioners sugar is all and I didn't even use that.


Donna Hay's Sticky Date Meringue Cake

Donna Hay magazine is such a treat to read and recently I went through some back Christmas issues and marked a couple recipes to make for the holidays. The first is this awesome sticky date cake. The cake part is moist and somewhat sticky (not as much as a sticky date pudding though) and the orange zest shines through...just the right amount. It's a delicious cake all on its own, but Donna Hay has taken it over the top by adding a fluffy meringue. I've made one other cake with a baked meringue and it's always been a favorite of mine, but this one seems perfectly suited for Christmas dessert. Yum.

Notes: Be sure to follow the meringue directions exactly. And remember to dip your knife in hot water before slicing into the cake so you'll have a nice smooth edge on the meringue.

Sticky Date Meringue Cake
Donna Hay Magazine, Issue 78

1/2 cup pitted fresh dates, roughly chopped
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/3 cup boiling water
50g unsalted butter, softened (slightly less than 1/2 a stick)
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tablespoon finely grated orange rind
2 eggs (room temperature)
2/3 cup self-raising flour, sifted
1/4 cup almond meal
1 1/2 tablespoons golden syrup (I used Karo)
1/4 cup slivered pistachios

4 large egg whites
1 cup superfine sugar
1 teaspoon white vinegar
1 tablespoon cornstarch

confectioners sugar, for dusting

Preheat oven to 325 F. Lightly grease a 9 inch round springform pan, line the base with non-stick baking paper and set aside.  Place the dates, soda and water in a bowl and set aside for 10-15 minutes to soak. Using a hand-held blender, process until smooth and set aside.

Place the butter, vanilla, sugar and orange rind in the bowl of an electric mixer and beat for 10-12 minutes or until pale and creamy. Scrape down the side of the bowl and add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add the flour, date mixture, almond meal, golden syrup and pistachios and beat until well combined. Spoon into the prepared tin and spread evenly. Bake for 30-35 minutes or until cooked when tested with a skewer. Set aside.

Increase the oven temperature to 350 F. Place the extra egg whites in the clean bowl of an electric mixer and whisk on high until stiff peaks form. Gradually add the sugar, one tablespoon at a time, whisking for 30 seconds before adding more. Once all the sugar has been added, whisk for a further 6 minutes or until stiff and glossy. Scrape down the side of the bowl, add the vinegar and cornflour and whisk for a further 2 minutes or until glossy and combined.

Spread the meringue evenly over the top of the cake and return to the oven for 15-20 minutes or until the meringue is just golden and dry to the touch. Allow the cake to stand at room temperature for 15 minutes before gently running a knife around the edge of the tin and removing the ring. Allow the cake to cool and refrigerate for 2 hours before serving. Dust with icing sugar to serve.


Whipped Cranberry Porridge

Got some leftover cranberries? Try this whipped porridge.  I confess I was surprised I liked this as well as I did. Not that I don't like porridge, I do and even like Cream of Wheat, though I haven't had it since my kids were little. Like my mother, I used to put chocolate chips on the bottom of the bowl so they'd eat every bite. Sometimes, raisins. Which didn't go over nearly as well.

I didn't use a whisk in the last step, I used my hand mixer. Adjust the sugar to your taste and serve it with milk...almond milk, coconut milk, whatever. For toppings try berries, toasted coconut flakes ( I was lazy and didn't toast mine, but you should toast yours.), toasted nuts or bee pollen.  I'd rather have it a little warm, but it's not necessary. Very unusual, pretty in pink, easy and good for you!

Whipped Cranberry Porridge
From Cup of Jo

3 1/4 cups water
2 cups fresh cranberries
pinch of fine sea salt
1/2 to 3/4 cup granulated sugar, depending on your taste
2/3 cup cream of wheat
milk of your choice, for serving
optional toppings of your choice

In a medium pot, combine the water and cranberries. Bring to a boil, and boil for 10 to 15 minutes.

Add the salt and sugar. Gradually whisk in the Cream of Wheat. Depending on what the directions say on the box, let simmer for 5 (I used the 2 1/2 minute type, so did 5 minutes) to 10 minutes stirring constantly. Taste and add more sugar if desired. Remove the pot from the heat and let the porridge cool to room temperature.

When the porridge has cooled to room temperature, whisk until light and fluffy. The color will turn from magenta to light pink.
Serve either at room temperature or cold, with milk and toppings of your choice.
The porridge can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days. For the perfect texture, whisk it again before serving.


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