This recipe lives in the breakfast chapter of Sara Moulton Cooks at Home (page 308) and it would be a great choice for Christmas breakfast or brunch, but I think it would also be great served as a dessert at an elegant dinner. My daughter Ruthie loves French toast. Most Sundays she gets up and cooks her own using thick slices of French bread. She dips it in a quick batter made of 2 eggs, about 2/3 cup milk, and some vanilla extract and sautés it in some butter in a nonstick pan until golden. (I buy one baguette a week, slice it for French toast and melted cheese sandwiches, wrap it tightly, and freeze it. That way we always have some on hand.)
I developed this fancy-shmancy French toast years ago for an article in New York’s Daily News entitled “Mother’s Day Mystery: What do you do for Mom if she’s a chef every other day of the year?” At the time Ruthie was five and Sam a whopping one. Neither of them was ready to cook this recipe or anything else besides pizza dough, but it was definitely the sort of recipe Ruth liked. In fact, she turned out to be a chocolate lover and a sweetaholic in general, and she loves this recipe. So do I.
6 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon table salt
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
Eight 1/2-inch thick slices brioche or egg bread
4 ounces bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, broken into large chunks and finely chopped
1 cup Quick Raspberry Sauce, recipe follows
1/2 cup fresh raspberries
Several fresh mint sprigs for garnish
Beat the eggs with the milk, sugar, vanilla, and salt in a large shallow dish. Working in 2 batches, melt half of the butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high high heat or heat a griddle to medium-hot. Dip half the bread slices quickly in the egg mixture until lightly soaked. Transfer to the skillet and sprinkle each slice with one-fourth of the chocolate. Dip the remaining bread in the egg mixture and place on top of the chocolate. Press gently but firmly with a spatula so the slices adhere. Turn down the heat to medium and cook, turning once, until well browned and cooked though, 5 minutes per side. Cut in half on the diagonal and serve on warmed plates. Spoon a small amount of the raspberry sauce around the toast and garnish with whole raspberries and a sprig of mint. Serve the remaining sauce on the side.
Quick Raspberry Sauce
Combine 1 pint fresh raspberries, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, and 1/2 cup sugar in a food processor. Taste and add up to 1/4 cup additional sugar if desired. Process until well blended and strain through a fine mesh strainer.