Stuffed French Toast with Gingerbread Praline Sauce

For the Gingerbread Praline Sauce:
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
2 tablespoons molasses
2/3 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
pinch of salt
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon lime juice
1/3 cup chopped pecans

For the French Toast:
1 loaf crusty, day-old bread (like challah, a crusty french loaf or brioche)
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract, divided
1/4 teaspoon cardamom
4 eggs
1 cup milk
1 tablespoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
butter for grilling

Make the gingerbread praline sauce: In a saucepan melt the butter over medium heat. Add in brown sugar and molasses and heat until sugar is dissolved. Whisk in the cream slowly. Stir in fresh ginger, cinnamon, cloves and salt. Continue cooking over medium heat, stirring frequently, 8-10 minutes until the sauce thickens. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla and lime juice. Mix in pecans. Serve warm over french toast.

Slice the loaf of crusty bread lengthwise, making a 1-1/2″ slit along the side. In a small bowl, blend together cream cheese, 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract and cardamom until well mixed. Spread the cream cheese evenly in the slit in the bread. Cut the bread into 1″-thick slices.

Preheat a griddle to 375º F and oven to 275º F. In a shallow bowl or plate, beat together eggs, milk, brown sugar, remaining 1 teaspoon of vanilla and salt. Soak bread on both sides in the egg mixture. Lightly butter griddle or pan. Place soaked bread slices on the preheated griddle and cook for 2-3 minutes or until golden brown. Flip and repeat on the next side. Move toast to a baking sheet and store in a warm oven for 5-10 minutes while you finish the remaining pieces of bread. Serve warm with the gingerbread praline sauce.

Makes 12-15 pieces of French toast.

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