A warm and spiced breakfast just waiting to awaken your senses Christmas morning, with you surrounded by family and a plate piled high with cardamom cream stuffed French toast swimming in gingerbread praline sauce.
The gifts already sit under the tree, wrapped and calling to the kids. Only the stockings have yet to be filled. For the first three days they squealed and sorted the piles into the ones with their names. They added bows to the tops from the stash in the wrapping box. Then they wrapped the gifts for their cousins and their grandparents and added them to the pile, sweetly writing the “to” and “love” portions of the homemade labels on each gift and imagining the delight the recipient would show as they opened the packaging.
Our Christmas morning at home traditionally takes place on Christmas Eve before heading out to run from one family event to another, sweeping in, staying a while and then taking off for the next one. The kids will be covered in kisses and gifted presents and offered sweet treats at each house, and yet, at the heart of it all is something more.
For Christmas, whether you head to church, to family or the theater, I hope you have the chance to share it with those you love. To give of yourself, and to receive fully. And if Christmas isn’t what you are celebrating this season, the same holds true. A good, warm breakfast shared with those closest to you can be one of the best gifts of the year.
If gingerbread flavor isn’t your thing, you can just omit the spices from the 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
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.