eggnog french toast: a christmas brunch tradition

DSC_0653-1The excitement of Christmas has almost hit a boiling point and, with two days to go, I actually feel like I’m in pretty good shape.  My week was filled with plenty of holiday hustle and bustle:  intense workouts to [somewhat] equalize the over indulgence, daily trips to the grocery store for those three +/- forgotten items [how does this happen every day?], multiple trips to Target to snag stocking stuffers and a baby Cece for Fina, a holiday get together with our gym squad, and, finally, a couple of late nights where I turned my kitchen into a linzer cookie baking and gift factory.  I  haven’t even started assembling and wrapping the presents for my fam, but with this week “wrapping up” and the slow satisfying checking off of items on my to do list, I’m beginning to feel like I can exhale.  At the same time, I’m also getting a little blue that Christmas is almost here.  I know that sounds weird to be sad before something’s even over, but I LOVE the entire month leading up to Christmas and all the traditions and festivities that come along with it so much that when it comes close the big day, I get the “sadsies”.  We have so much to be grateful for every month and so much more to look forward to in the new year, but there’s something so magical about this particular time.  Does anyone else feel this way or are you simply glad when all the craziness has come to an end?

I usually end up posting to KarmaCucina once a week, but really wanted to share this recipe with you guys in advance of Christmas morning, so you could pull it together if you were looking for something special to serve the fam.  The original version of this recipe has been turning up almost as long as Joe and I have been together – we’re talking a few years shy of 20.  When I say that out loud, it makes me feel really old.  It also makes me feel really happy that I’ve spent nearly half my life with this one amazing person and managed to survive, experience and overcome all types of circumstances good and bad.  [I think the eggnog is getting to my head because I’m feeling a little sentimental…  Let’s get back to brunch…]

So, when Joe and I first started dating, we were young and at the point that where we wanted to get together with each other’s families at the holidays, but each had their own plans and traditions.  My mom began inviting him over on Christmas morning for brunch after he did presents with his family, but before he left for his aunt and uncle’s house.  This eggnog french toast is what she served the first year and every year thereafter; it became an accidental Christmas brunch tradition.  It’s decadent and perfectly seasonal and gives you something to do with the leftover jug of eggnog you have from your annual obligatory glass.  I decided to turn it into a casserole this year by modifying the original recipe a bit, so the only thing I’m doing on Christmas morning is popping the whole dish in the oven.  The compote is essential in my book, but for fussy kids or the sake of making things even simpler, you can easily just serve with maple syrup and powdered sugar.  The compote can be made up to two days prior and the casserole should be prepped the night before.  It’s super fab because you set it and forget it for about an hour on Christmas morning.  Meanwhile, the aroma of eggnog, apples, cranberries and cinnamon goodness permeates throughout the house as you watch the kids tearing into gifts.  By the time the living room has been annihilated with Christmas wrapping and new toys, breakfast is ready to hit the table.  I always prepare a side of sausage to go along with it because I love nothing more than uniting sweet with savory at mealtime.

Thank you for tuning in to my blog and following along as I get things going again.  I am excited to grow and share more in 2018.  I wish you all the Merriest of Christmases and the Happiest of Holidays!


eggnog french toast casserole
serves 6

6 eggs
3 cups eggnog
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp nutmeg
1 16 oz. loaf of challah, day old and cut into 1″ slices
2 Tbsp butter + more for buttering dish

for serving:
powdered sugar
cranberry apple compote (recipe below)
maple syrup optional

Beat eggs in a large bowl.  Whisk in eggnog, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg until well combined.  Dip challah slices in egg mixture and layer in a buttered 9×13 inch casserole dish. Pour remaining mixture over the top and press down. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.

When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Uncover the casserole and bake in oven for 30 minutes.  Open oven and baste top of casserole with 2 tablespoons of melted butter.  Bake an additional 10 – 20 minutes or until puffed and golden .    If top browns to quickly before french toast is set, you may cover loosely with aluminum foil for remainder of cooking time.

Let stand for about 10 minutes.  Sprinkle with powdered sugar and top individual slices with maple syrup or cranberry apple compote (recipe below).

*Mine took 45 minutes.  Make sure it’s not wet; it should be set, golden and nice and puffy, but you don’t want to dry it out either.

cranberry apple compote
from Bon Appetit

2 cups apple cider
6 tablespoons light corn syrup*
2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter
3 Golden Delicious apples, peeled, cored, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
2 cups cranberries (fresh or frozen)
1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon (about) sugar

Whisk apple cider, corn syrup, and brown sugar in heavy large saucepan. Boil over high heat until reduced to 1 cup, about 15 minutes. Add 4 tablespoons butter; whisk until melted. Remove from heat.

Melt remaining 4 tablespoons butter in heavy large skillet over medium heat. Add apple pieces; sauté 2 minutes. Add cranberries and 1/2 cup sugar. Stir until cranberries begin to pop, about 2 minutes. Stir in reduced cider mixture. Boil until reduced to syrup consistency, about 6 minutes. Stir in more sugar, if desired. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Stir over medium heat until heated through.) Transfer compote to bowl and serve warm.

Notes on compote:

  • I use maple syrup in lieu of corn syrup
  • I had to boil an additional 10 minutes to get the syrupy consistency.  This could be because I used the maple syrup substitute.


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