Banana-Stuffed French Toast
For the toasted pecan maple syrup:
- 1 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 1/2 cup chopped pecans
- Pinch of kosher salt
- 1 cup maple syrup
For the whipped crème fraîche:
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- 2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar
- 1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
For the French toast:
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter
- 2 Tbs. plus 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2 Tbs. water
- 2 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds
- 1-lb. loaf day-old challah, ends trimmed, bread cut into 6 slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick
- 2 cups milk
- 6 eggs
- 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp. granulated honey
- Seeds from 1/4 vanilla bean
To make the toasted pecan maple syrup, in a fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pecans and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and maple syrup, increase the heat to high and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.
To make the whipped crème fraîche, in a bowl, lightly whisk together the cream, crème fraîche, confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon until just combined. Pour the mixture into a cream whipper, add the cartridge according to the manufacturer’s instructions and refrigerate until ready to use.
To make the French toast, in large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, add the 2 Tbs. granulated sugar and the water, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Cook until the mixture is lightly caramelized, 4 to 5 minutes. Add the bananas and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender, 1 1/2 to 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a slit 2 inches long in one side of each bread slice, cutting three-fourths of the way. Stuff the pockets with the banana mixture, dividing evenly.
Preheat an electric panini maker to “panini” mode. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet.
In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, cinnamon, granulated honey, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla bean seeds and blend with an immersion blender. Pour into a baking dish. Soak half of the bread slices for 5 minutes, turning occasionally.
Place the bread on the panini maker and cook, adjusting the top plate so it lightly presses the bread, until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet. Soak and cook the remaining bread slices. Serve the French toast with the pecan maple syrup and whipped crème fraîche. Serves 6.
Recipe by Chef Bryan Voltaggio