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Stuffed French Toast Grand Marnier

Stuffed French Toast Grand Marnier
Golden French toast stuffed with fresh banana slices and dried cherries and apricots makes a flavorful package that is wonderfully accented by orange-flavored butter. Alternatively, omit the butter and serve the French toast with a dusting of confectioners' sugar.

Ingredients:

For the orange butter:

  • 16 Tbs. (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • Grated zest of 1 orange
  • 1 tsp. Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur

For the French toast:

  • 1/4 cup dried cherries
  • 1/4 cup dried apricots, slivered
  • Grated zest of 1/2 orange
  • 1/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 large ripe banana, thinly sliced
  • 12 slices challah bread, each 2 inches thick
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup Grand Marnier or other orange-flavored liqueur
  • 2 Tbs. light brown sugar
  • Pinch of salt
  • About 2 Tbs. unsalted butter

Directions:

To make the orange butter, in a small bowl or a food processor, combine the butter, orange zest and liqueur and beat or process until smooth. Transfer to individual crocks and refrigerate until ready to serve.

To make the French toast, in a small nonreactive saucepan over medium heat, combine the cherries, apricots, orange zest, orange juice and the 2 Tbs. liqueur. Bring to a simmer, then remove from the heat. Stir in the cinnamon, cover and let stand for 10 minutes. Stir in the banana slices.

Using a small, sharp knife, cut a narrow horizontal slit in the center of one side of each bread slice, keeping three sides intact. Spoon about 1 1/2 Tbs. of the fruit filling into the pocket, then press the top with the palm of your hand to seal.

In a shallow bowl, whisk the eggs until frothy. Whisk in the milk, the 1/4 cup liqueur, brown sugar and salt. Dip the filled bread slices into the egg mixture and let soak, turning once, for about 2 minutes per side.

Heat a griddle or a large, heavy fry pan over high heat until a few drops of water flicked onto the surface skitter across it. Add about 1 Tbs. of the butter and, when the foaming subsides, add the French toast in batches. Cook until golden brown on one side, about 3 minutes. Turn and brown the other side, about 2 minutes more. Keep warm. Repeat with the remaining French toast, adding more butter to the pan as needed.

Divide the French toast among warmed individual plates and serve with the orange butter.
Serves 8.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Lifestyles Series, Brunch Entertaining, by Janeen Sarlin (Time-Life Books, 1999).