Chocolate Banana Baked French Toast

The pace of life has been speeding up over the last few weeksβ€”foot on the accelerator, engine revving, scenery blurred. As the intensity increases, the rare, fleeting moments of quiet are gone, replaced with packed weekends and busier weeknights. For now, I need to keep my eyes on the road, hands on the wheel, preserving whatever control I can over this runaway ride.

I'll be back soon, with stories and sweets. I promise.

I wish I could tell you that I served this Chocolate Banana Baked French Toast on a warm Sunday morning for friends and family, but real life is not always so picturesque. The reality is that I ate this dish for dinner while sitting cross-legged on the living room floor, digging into the pan with a single spoon. Though the moment was a brief pause between running from here to there, it was delicious. I wished I had someone to share it with, just so we could ooh and ahh over the dish together.

Make this to shareβ€”decadence is enjoyed best with a friend.

Chocolate Banana Baked French Toast is a sweet addition to your brunch menu. Bananas are pureed into the milk and soaked up by the bread. The bread is drizzled with chocolate hazelnut spread in the middle and over the top to add sweetness and a rich chocolate flavor to each bite. There's no need to add maple syrup as the dish is served best plain and hot from the oven. The French toast can be made the evening before or the morning of serving. 

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Chocolate Banana Baked French Toast
Inspired by Top with Cinnamon

Yields 6 to 8 servings

3 ripe, medium bananas, divided
1/3 cup (70 grams) brown sugar, packed
6 large eggs
2 cups (475 mL) milk of choice
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 loaf stale French bread, cut into 1-inch cubes (about 8-10 cups)
1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons (185 grams) chocolate hazelnut spread, warmed gently until liquid in consistency
2 tablespoons demerara sugar (or brown sugar)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).

In a blender, blend together two bananas, brown sugar, eggs, milk, cinnamon, and vanilla until smooth. Set aside.

In a 9 x 13-inch baking dish, place 1/2 of the cubed bread and drizzle 1/2 of the chocolate hazelnut spread over the top. Layer the remaining bread and drizzle the remaining chocolate hazelnut spread. Pour the milk mixture evenly over the bread, making sure each piece is coated.* Slice the remaining banana and place slices on the top. Sprinkle with demerara sugar.

Bake uncovered for 40-50 minutes, or until lightly browned and souffle-like in appearance. Serve immediately.

* For overnight baked French toast, wrap the pan tightly and refrigerate until the next morning. Add sliced banana and demerara sugar just before baking.

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

Every Sunday I like to fix up something special for a morning brunch. Since my family doesn't have enough time on weekday mornings to make something extravagant (and, really, who does?), we save up all our cheesy, buttery, maple syrup drenched breakfast dishes for our lazy Sunday mornings.

Last night, I set out to make a baked French toast dish. Though French toast is a regular on our brunch menu, I'm usually too last minute to think far enough ahead to assemble the French toast dish the night before. It seems a bit silly to say, but baked French toast is something that has eluded me for years. By the time I realize I want to eat it, it's already Sunday morning. It's too late to make the baked French toast I've been craving.

This week I finally thought ahead. About time, self!

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

When looking for recipes online, I've noticed that so many recipes for Cinnamon Raisin French Toast require a loaf of cinnamon raisin bread. I don't know about you, but this isn't something I normally keep in the house. When it's late Saturday night and I'm wondering what to make for Sunday brunch, the very last thing I want to do is head to the grocery store. So, in order to fix this little problem, I decided to come up with my own recipe to suit the ingredients I already had in my home. Chances are you'll already have these ingredients in your pantry too (and isn't that a wonderful, wonderful thing?).

After eating well over 1/4 of this dish on my own, I can assure you this Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast is the perfect brunch dish. This French toast dish does have to set in the refrigerator overnight, so you will have to think ahead. The time it spends in the refrigerator really melds together the flavors of the dish and brings out a fantastic custard-like texture.

Or, in other words, this is definitely worth the wait.

Cinnamon Raisin Baked French Toast

This Cinnamon Raisin Baked French toast is absolutely saturated with cinnamon and raisinsβ€”there is no skimping on flavor here. The French toast itself rests on a layer of butter and brown sugar. When it bakes up, the butter and sugar caramelize. This caramel sauce is then absorbed by the bread, giving an added (and delicious) dimension to the French toast. The raisins also absorb some of the liquid in the French toast, making them plump and bursting with raisin-y goodness. If I didn't know any better, I would imagine this was a decadent bread pudding. Now tell me, who wouldn't want to eat that for brunch?

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