Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Mario and Giada made me do it....

So what had happened was....

You may recall that we spent a fair amount of time at Eataly last Thursday. We wandered in, picked out a few $9 chocolate bars... and then saw a sign that said with a $25 chocolate purchase, we got a free panettone. For anyone not familiar, panettone is the one fruit bread that is o.k. to eat. Its usually slightly sweet, very buttery, and slightly tangy.
Matt and I had actually decided that, post-NYC, we were going to "go healthy". We had been having a great time the past few months- by which I mean we were decidedly unhealthy.We decided we would cut back on the carbs (white bread, sugar, pasta, white flour, etc).

But then we got home, unpacked, and realized we had this free loaf of bread- a hefty loaf at that. We had received this free gift as a result of purchases- we felt we had earned it. So if we didn't eat at least some of it, it would have been a waste of a free gift. We are not wasteful people.
I may have also recalled seeing a recipe using panettone on a holiday episode of Everyday Italian with Giada DeLaurentis (food network, love her- also hate her because of how frequently she gets to go to Italy. And probably gets paid for it. Wench).
Again, I digress.
The recipe was for Panettone French Toast. You can link to it here The reviews were fantastic, so we decided we would have to try this french toast so that this lovely bread would  not go to waste ;)

I figured we would not want leftovers (more excuses to delay the inevitable), so I used a little less than half of the loaf (the rest is headed to the freezer). I sliced it horizontally into about 3/4" slices. You can go thicker, but you will probably need to adjust the cooking time and temp to make sure the custard gets cooked through.
I cut off the crust as much as possible and did not use the very top slice (pretty much all crust)- we basically just nibbled on that chunk while I was cooking.

These are the ingredients for the cinnamon syrup:
  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup packed dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons whipping cream
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Some of you may be thinking: "But I like maple syrup. Why would I need to make syrup?"
Because this is better. The spice of the cinnamon keeps the whole thing from getting overly sweet. If you like super-sweet, feel free to use maple. But this is better.

So you put the water and sugar in a pan and boil it until it reduces to 1 cup. I just stuck it in there when I started cooking and let it boil until I was just about done. Also, for our portion here, we used about 4 tablespoons of the syrup. I did not save it (as we are now off sugar), so it ended up going to waste. If you are not going to save it, you may want to halve the recipe.

Then I mixed together the custard. For this, I did halve the recipe and it was the perfect amount of batter. I used:
  • 3 large eggs
  • 3 ozs whipping cream
  • 3 ozs skim milk (instead of whole)
  • 1/8 cup sugar
Sadly, we did not have any real butter on hand (pretty sure it was on account of the Thin Mint cupcakes with buttercream frosting I made for a party last week... but that is another post). So I melted a little Country Crock we had on hand.
Sooooo not the same thing. Instead of melting and getting a little bubbly and, well... liquidy... this stuff melted and then just sat there in small pools. My toast browned, but did not have the same crispiness I would have gotten from actual butter. In retrospect, a dry pan (nonstick that still sears) would have probably been best in this situation.

It took about 4 minutes per side for them to brown and be slightly firm to the touch. Two slices were somewhat thicker and for those, I started them in the pan at a lower heat to allow them to cook through. Then I switched it to a higher heat to get them brown on the outside. It took two batches and I kept the cooked pieces in the oven at 200 deg. F while I finished off the second batch on the stove.
**Note- be careful when handling the bread between batter and pan- it gets very delicate.
When the toast was just about done,  I took the syrup off the heat and mixed in the cream and cinnamon- it was the perfect consistency.

Here is the finished product:

The recipe also called for a dollop of mascarpone on top, which oddly, we did not have on hand. I thought it was fine without it, but I'm pretty sure it wouldn't hurt either...

Overall, a tasty breakfast-for-dinner recipe. The batter is more of a custard, and depending on how much you cook it, should turn the inside of the bread all soft, fluffy, and eggy while the outside gets brown and crisp.
Panettone is typically sold and served only around Christmas or New Year (probably why we got ours for free...), and Giada apparently made it as a Christmas morning treat. I think it is delicious any time of the year- although sadly it is nowhere near the healthy list :(

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