Strawberry Rhubarb Stuffed French Toast, meet your newest rival. Can you tell I have a sweet tooth with all these dessert posts lately?
I was asked to do a cooking demo at my beloved former job at Palmetto Olive Oil Company. Working there was a foodie’s dream. I got to help customers find the perfect olive oil or balsamic for whatever recipe they were looking for, snack on delicious bread with artisan olive oils all day, and expand my creativity in the kitchen with recipes like these. You know how I’m always going on about using the highest quality olive oil and balsamic you can find? Palmetto Olive Oil Company is where I go to find this stuff.
One thing you will notice about their balsamic vinegars is that they are aged for 18 years. They are sweet, thick, and luscious. Whenever I make a balsamic reduction with their product, it doesn’t take long at all to reduce and become even thicker and sweeter.
Look at that beautiful mess. So let’s dive into what makes this French toast so special, shall we? It starts with lovely Challah bread, which is pillowy and light and looks like a little cloud awaiting its apple filling. Stuffed inside are granny smith apples that have been cooked down with butter, brown sugar, and just a pinch of salt– so basically, it tastes like the inside of an apple pie. The toast is griddled and finished off with a drizzle of cinnamon-pear infused dark balsamic vinegar, which adds a nice tang and more cinnamon flavor to reinforce the flavors of the toast. Finally, it’s all topped off with a combination of whipped cream and Mascarpone cheese, which gives it a silky, cheesecake-like flare. So basically, you’re looking at french toast meets apple pie meets cheesecake.
I tested this recipe at home before making it for the cooking demo, and in both cases people said “I’ll just take a bite…” and then ended up eating the whole plate. I think it’s safe to say this recipe is absolutely delicious.
Cinnamon-Apple Stuffed French Toast with Whipped Vanilla Mascarpone & Cinnamon-Pear Balsamic Reduction
For the toast:
- 8 slices Challah or brioche bread, sliced roughly 1.5 inches thick
- 3/4 cup half and half
- 5 eggs
- 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Butter, for frying
For the filling:
- 4 granny smith apples, peeled and diced
- 4 Tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 5 Tablespoons brown sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
For the whipped vanilla mascarpone:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 6 oz mascarpone cheese
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 4 Tablespoons confectioner’s sugar
You will also need 1/3 cup Cinnamon-Pear Dark Balsamic.
- Make the filling: In a large frying pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add in the apples, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Cook for 5-10 minutes, until the apples have softened and the butter and sugar have combined to form a caramel-like sauce. Set aside.
- Make the whipped mascarpone: In a large bowl, whip the heavy cream, vanilla, and powdered sugar until stiff peaks form. Add in the mascarpone cheese and beat until evenly combined. Set aside.
- In a shallow bowl, combine the eggs, half and half, cinnamon, and vanilla.
- Using a sharp knife, make a slit in the bottom of each slice of challah. This is the pocket where your filling goes. Stuff each slice with around 2 Tablespoons of filling.
- Dunk each slice of stuffed challah in the egg mixture. Make sure that each slice has a nice coating.
- Coat a griddle or skillet over medium heat with a few Tablespoons of butter. Fry the challah in batches of 2-3 in the skillet until golden brown.
- While the French toast is cooking, reduce the 1/3 cup of balsamic in a small saucepan over medium heat, about 3-5 minutes. It should thicken nicely.
- Top each slice of french toast with a drizzle of balsamic reduction and a nice dollop of the whipped mascarpone.