Maybe it’s the influence of the Delta, or maybe it’s luck of the draw, but Memphis publishes some of the best cookbooks in America. Three that come to mind immediately are Heart & Soul, Well Seasoned and Key Ingredients. Since I have four sisters, collectively, we have made almost every recipe in each of these books.
Key Ingredients is the newest of the books and benefits Le Bonheur Hospital. I was lucky enough to be included in the taste testing. Not that I did anything but eat, the real work was done by my sister, Martha Podesta and sister-in-law, Jamie McDonnell. Unbeknownst to me, the goal of cookbook committees was to change a couple of the ingredients in a popular recipe, and voilá, you have a brand new recipe. So if you want to add a spin on, say, chicken salad with grapes and pecans, you substitute pineapple and macadamia nuts, then name it “Maui Chicken Salad.” You get the drift, I am sure. The recipe below was the hands down favorite brunch recipe of the committee. I have served it countless times, only to have everyone come back for seconds. It is easy to make, especially if you are serving a crowd. Enjoy!
The real secret of this lovely recipe is that it looks like you slaved away. While you sip on a chilled mimosa, your French toast is nicely baking in the oven.
We teamed up with our ace photographer, Ashley Hylbert and the equally talented and lovely Mary Carter, one of Nashville’s most accomplished food stylists. Together, they created the vision of this perfect French toast.
My role? Pretty simple. I was a taste tester. Once again, this was unanimously a favorite of the cooking committee.
- ½ ( 8 oz) package cream cheese softened
- ½ cup sifted powder sugar
- 1 (16 oz) loaf of unsliced French bread
- 8 eggs, lightly beaten
- ¾ cup half-and-half
- 1 t. vanilla
- ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
- Maple-Praline Sauce
- 1 stick of butter
- ½ packed light brown sugar
- ½ cup maple syrup
- 1 c. pecans
- Combine cream cheese and powdered sugar in a small bowl; set aside.
- Cut bread into 1 inch thick slices to yield 20 slices.
- Spread cream cheese mixture onto top of 10 slices.
- Top with remaining bread slices to create a sandwich.
- Combine eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, cinnamon in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
- Add bread sandwiches, turning several times to coat.
- Cover and refrigerate 8 hours or overnight.
- When ready to bake, remove bread sandwiches from dish, discarding any excess liquid. Place bread on a lightly greased baking sheet. Bake at 375 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with the maple-praline sauce.
- Maple Praline Sauce
- Combine butter, brown sugar, syrup and pecans in a small saucepan.
- Cook over medium-low heat, stirring often until well blended.
- Makes 1¾ cups sauce
A huge thank you to Ashley Hylbert Photography and Mary Carter, food stylist. Click here to see more of Ashley’s work.
Also, Thanks to Obelisk for supplying the table setting for today’s post. For more information click here: