Well, what do you know. I blink, 6 months go by, and the next thing I know my blog is looking pretty lonely. My apologies to those of you who actually might have been looking for an update!
One of the things keeping me busy these past few months has been a heavy reading kick. In just a couple of days I crushed Jesse Schenker’s All or Nothing, a memoir about his rise from junkie to celebrated chef, all within the first 30 or so years of his life. It’s quite the insane and inspiring story. And, no surprise if you know me, something that stuck out to me most was his love for stuffed French toast. Not just any french toast, but peanut butter and jelly stuffed French toast. Combine this with the video from Brothers Green on the same subject, and it was all enough to inspire a regular French toast love affair.
One of my roommates recently finished up culinary school and is trying to rid herself of all sorts of extra goodies hiding in the fridge, one of which is perhaps the greatest food gift I’ve ever received: a giant tub of pistachio paste. Pistachios are one of my favorite things on this planet, and I’m currently spreading this stuff on everything that I can get my hands on. Introducing it into stuffed French toast only seemed like a natural progression.
This recipe is basically an adaption of my favorite kind of PB&J. At first, I thought of combining the pistachio paste with whipped cream cheese, but it turned out that the tanginess of the cheese was a bit too overpowering. Enter mascarpone—mild tasting, super creamy, and definitely delicious. I added some chopped and toasted pistachios in there as well, because I’m a huge fan of crunchy nut butters and wanted to emulate that texture.
As for my favorite type of PB&J—have you ever eaten a pistachio butter and blackberry jam sandwich? Try it. It’s pretty on point. This recipe is all of that, soaked in a delicious custard and cooked to a golden brown. Go on your diet next week—this is worth it.
- 1/4 cup shelled unsalted pistachios
- 1/2 cup mascarpone cheese
- 2 tbsp + 1 tsp pistachio paste
- 1 cup whole milk
- 3 large eggs
- 2 tbsp honey, warmed in the microwave
- 1/4 tsp kosher salt
- 1/4 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp orange zest
- 1 cup blackberry jam or preserves
- Four 1-1.5 inch thick day old challah slices
- 1 tbsp butter per piece of toast
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Shell pistachios if not already shelled and spread out on a baking sheet. Toast for about 6 minutes, or until aromatic. Cool, chop finely, and place in a small bowl. Increase oven temperature to 375°F.
- Combine mascarpone, pistachio paste and chopped pistachios in a medium bowl and mix until ingredients are completely incorporated. Set aside.
- In a shallow baking dish, whisk milk, eggs, honey, vanilla, orange zest, and salt until frothy and combined. Set aside.
- For each challah piece, use a paring knife to carefully slice a pocket into the bread. Slice into the bottom side of each piece, lengthwise, and cut nearly through to the other side of the bread, making sure to leave the sides intact. Use your fingers to open the pocket and create space for the filling.
- With a butter knife, carefully fill each pocket with a 1/4 of the pistachio mascarpone. Next, spread as much of the blackberry jam on top of the mascarpone as you can, making sure the fillings are spread throughout the entire slice of bread while still being able to close the pocket you created. Set aside and continue with 3 remaining slices.
- Soak the filled challah pieces in the custard for 30 seconds per side, and place on a plate to rest.
- Melt one tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat. One by one, cook challah slices for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown, adding more butter to the skillet before adding another piece of stuffed bread. Place cooked french toast pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and finish cooking through in the oven for 5 minutes.
- Cut each piece in half and finish with a dusting of powdered sugar, maple syrup, or both. Serve immediately.