Friday, February 22, 2013

Baked Coffee Cake French Toast

I made french toast for supper! What? I'm an adult. I can eat whatever I want.

I'm back in Virginia after two weeks at home in PA. I didn't want to run to the grocery store today, and I happened to have everything I needed to make this. Plus, I got to use my new cast iron skillet that I got from my gram for Christmas!

My time at home was wonderful! I had planned on staying for a little over a week, but it turned into two weeks when I couldn't make myself leave! I took lots of pictures, and there may be a post soon about the places I went and people I saw while I was home! It's funny how all through high school and college, I just wanted to move away to somewhere fun and exciting. Now, I'd rather be there with my family and old friends.... Maybe I'm growing up or something? Huh.

At least I'm not so grown up that I can't have french toast for supper!

Baked Coffee Cake French Toast
(adapted from the Joy the Baker cookbook)
1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
10 slices of slightly stale whole wheat bread
4 eggs
1 1/2 C. vanilla soy milk
1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice
1/3 C. sugar
1 Tbsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C. flour
1/4 C. packed brown sugar
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. salt
1/4 C. cold butter 

- Melt the tablespoon of unsalted butter in a cast iron (or any oven-friendly) skillet. Coat the bottom and sides of the pan with the butter. Remove from heat.

- Cut the bread diagonally. Arrange the slices of bread in the buttered skillet, pointed side facing up. 

- In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, lemon juice, sugar, and vanilla until well-incorporated. Pour the mixture over the bread in the skillet, covering every slice as much as possible. (The bread will not be submerged.)

- Cover the skillet tightly with plastic wrap. (My wrap wouldn't cling to the cast iron, so I added a lid, too.) Refrigerate for anywhere from an hour to overnight. 

- When you're ready to bake, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees F.

- For the topping, whisk together the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Using a fork, work the butter into the flour mixture, until it is coarse and crumbly.

- Remove the soaking bread from the refrigerator, uncover, and top with the crumb mixture. 

- Bake for 25-30 minutes, until the custard in the bottom has set and the tops of the bread have started to toast. 

- Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 10-15 minutes. Scoop into bowls and top with powdered sugar or syrup.

This really is heavenly. The bottom turns into a kind of custard-y bread pudding. The part sticking out turns into buttery, cinnamon-y toast. It really would be great for breakfast or brunch. Especially since you can do everything the night before and just throw it in the oven in the morning. But... it was just as good for supper!

If you don't do the whole soy milk thing, the original recipe calls for 1 C. of whole milk and 1/2 C. of buttermilk instead of the soy milk and lemon juice. I've just been on a soy milk kick lately. I'm starting to like it better than cow's milk, so it's all I have on hand and I'm trying to substitute it in recipes. 


Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Super Bowl S'mores

February is my month off from work. Since I'm a "seasonal" employee, I can only work 10 months out of the year. I have February off, and then another month sometime this summer. It's kind of glorious. Being away from work for a couple of weeks now has made me realize how much I bonded with some of my coworkers, though. There are a few people that I really miss!

A few days after our last day of work, I went to a Super Bowl party. I really didn't care about the actual game, but it was my last chance to hang out with most of my work friends before they went back to Florida until next season. I was also excited about the commercials, half time show, and the food! My hosts made buffalo chicken dip, baked beans, mac & cheese, cocktail weenies, amazing home-smoked bbq pork loin, and a glorious peanut butter pie.

My contribution was a couple of cases of beer, and these Red Velvet S'mores Bars.

They're soft and gooey and super sweet. I think they were a big hit, and I ate many more than I'm willing to admit. With Valentine's Day right around the corner, these would be great to make for someone special, too!

I got the recipe from Sugarcrafter. I didn't make many changes, because they were pretty perfect already. Although, I have to say... when I was eating the last one, I decided to experiment. A little peanut butter made them super-mega-awesome.

Red Velvet S'mores Bars

1 1/2 C. graham cracker crumbs
6 Tbsp. butter - melted
1 1/2 C. sugar
1/2 C. softened butter
2 eggs
2 tsp. vanilla
1 1/4 C. flour
1/4 tsp. salt
3 heaping Tbsp. cocoa powder
2 Tbsp. red food coloring
2/3 C. semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 1/2 C. marshmallow fluff
bag of marshmallows

- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the bottom and sides of an 8"x8" cake pan with nonstick cooking spray.

- Combine the graham cracker crumbs and melted butter, then press the mixture into the bottom of the prepared pan.

- Combine the cocoa powder, red food coloring, and 1 tsp. of the vanilla in a small bowl. It will create a red paste. 

- With an electric mixer, beat the sugar and butter until fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs one at a time, beating well after each. Add in the remaining tsp. of vanilla.

- Beat in the cocoa powder paste until the batter is a solid red. Add in the flour and salt, mixing until almost combined. Finish mixing by hand, and fold in the chocolate chips. Spread the batter over the graham cracker crust in the pan.

- Bake for about 35 minutes, or until the brownies are set.

- Remove from the oven and drop on the marshmallow fluff by spoonfuls while the brownies are still hot. Once the marshmallow is warmed and softened, spread it evenly. If it's difficult to spread, you can cover the pan for a minute or so, to soften the marshmallow.

- Preheat your oven's broiler. Cut about 18 marshmallows in half and lay (cut side down) on top of the marshmallow fluff. Place the pan under the broiler for 20-30 seconds, until the marshmallows are golden-brown. (Watch them carefully... they can go from brown to burned in the blink of an eye!) Let them cool completely before cutting.

They're super gooey... hence, difficult to cut. I just powered through. Coating your knife with nonstick spray can help. You could even put them in the freezer for awhile to harden up the marshmallow before cutting. They're totally worth it, though. They're sweet and delicious and decadent. Take them to a party, make them for that special someone, or heck, just make them as a treat for yourself!