My friend, co-conspirator and member of the E. Welcome Committee, Maria brought this fabulous baked French toast dish that I can not stop thinking about. In fact I had some leftovers for lunch today. There's still a little bit left, but shhh... I am not telling any one so I can sneak some tomorrow!
This was such a treat, reminding me more of a bread pudding than French toast in richness and consistency, but unmistakable in French toast flavor. I want to share this delectable dish with the world. (I hope she doesn't mind!)
16 slices of firm bread -- I prefer slightly stale and a thicker-cut white bread is recommended
4 ounces of whipped cream cheese
Equal parts of cinnamon and granulated sugar, mixed together to taste -- 3/4 - 1 Cup (Maria likes it dark, almost like brown sugar)
1 stick of butter, melted
1/4 Cup of real maple syrup (Note: real does not bear the name Aunt, Jemima or Butterworth, no Eggo or anything like that. Perhaps the bottle will say Vermont)
6 large eggs
1 3/4 Cups of whole milk
1 teaspoon of vanilla -- I am always very heavy handed with my vanilla usage!
Preheat over to 350 degrees
1. Start by figuring the arrangement of 6-8 slices of bread in an 11x17 inch baking dish, then remove the bread.
2. Spread 8 slices of bread with cream cheese and sprinkle generously with the cinnamon-sugar mixture. Top each slice with another slice, cut diagonally in half and set aside.
3. In a small pot combine brown sugar, melted butter and maple syrup. Cook while stirring, until well blended and sugar is dissolved. Pour into baking dish.
4. Fit the cream cheese sandwiches into the baking dish in one layer, on top of the melted butter and sugar mixture. You may have to squeeze them in, but try to have all the sandwiches touching the butter and sugar mixture.
5. In a medium bowl beat the eggs with a whisk. Add milk and vanilla and mix until well blended. Pour over the bread, making sure there are no dry spots.
6. Cover and let sit for 45 minutes, or leave in the refrigerator overnight
7. Bake for 30-40 minutes (remove cover first!) at 350 degrees, until the top is golden brown and dry to the touch and sauce is bubbling. It will puff up a little. Let cool for 10 minutes
8. Flip over to caramel side for serving and sprinkle with powdered sugar if desired.
Serves 12 - 16