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Soothe Yourself With Dominique Ansel’s Caramelized Banana French Toast

Seriously, there is no better treat you can give yourself this weekend

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French toast Getty Images/iStockphoto

Is there a more comforting food than French toast? It’s heavy, carb-y, a perfect vehicle when laden with other decadent toppings like chocolate and syrup. It’s ideal nesting food, which is what so many of us, if we’re lucky, are doing right about now.

Even Dominique Ansel. The NYC-based pastry chef, famous for his viral inventions like the Cronut but also supremely talented at the classics, is at home right now, cooking up treats in his own kitchen — and not just fancy stuff (like this Vanilla Sablé Tart Shell, which ?!?!). As part of the Eater @ Home virtual event series, Ansel showed us how to whip up some French toast, with two rather extra extras from his forthcoming cookbook, Everyone Can Bake: caramelized bananas and vanilla Chantilly, aka fancy whipped cream. Watch Ansel cook up this breakfast treat on Instagram and check out his recipes (with some helpful commentary from the chef himself) below.


Brioche French Toast

I like using brioche for my French toast, as it’s got a buttery, eggy, and subtly sweet flavor that works really well for this recipe. It’s also available by the loaf, so you can slice it however you’d like and it holds its shape once soaked. If you don’t have brioche, this recipe also works with baguette, sourdough, or simple white bread, too.

Ingredients:
1 cup whole milk
1 13 cups heavy cream
5 large eggs
23 cups maple syrup
14 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoons rum (optional)
1 day-old brioche loaf, sliced into 1-inch thick slices
Butter
Vegetable or canola oil

Step 1: Pre-heat oven to 350°F. Place brioche slices on a baking sheet and toast for 3-5 minutes until just golden blonde. Remove from the oven and let cool for a few minutes. (Toasting the brioche first allows more of the custard soak to absorb.)

Step 2: In a large mixing bowl, combine milk, cream, eggs, maple syrup, salt, and rum (optional) with a whisk until smooth. Make sure to mix thoroughly, so you don’t end up with bits of egg yolk or white as the French toast sears in the pan.

Step 3: Soak the toasted brioche in the milk mixture, fully submerging the slices and turning them over after a few minutes so they soak generously and evenly. Give the slices a little squeeze to make sure they’ve absorbed a good amount of the milk mixture. Transfer the soaked slices onto a baking sheet and let them rest for 1-2 minutes. (Press the slices with your fingers – they should feel damp but not so wet that they lose their structure and shape.)

Step 4: In a non-stick pan, heat 2 tablespoons of butter and 2 tablespoons of either vegetable or canola oil over medium heat. (Make sure that your pan is hot before you add the bread slices. If the pan isn’t hot enough, the liquid will leak out from the bread, rather than searing and caramelizing.) Sear the soaked bread slices for 2-3 minutes until golden brown and caramelized on one side. Flip and continue on the other side, another 2-3 minutes. Add more butter and oil in the pan as necessary and continue with the remaining slices. (You can keep them warm in the oven or loosely covered with foil while you’re cooking the remaining slices, until ready to serve.)

Serve with caramelized bananas and vanilla Chantilly (recipes below).


Caramelized Bananas

You might wonder, what’s the difference between roasted fruit and caramelized fruit? Roasted fruits are cooked until thoroughly softened, and have a concentrated, almost jammy flavor. Caramelized fruits are cooked until golden on the outside but still firm. How flavors change, depends on how you choose to cook an ingredient! The first time I tried caramelized bananas, they were ladled over a crepe, and I can still smell their burnt sugar, which had an almost bitter taste that melted away as I chewed.

Makes 1 cup, or enough to cover one 8-inch tart
Time: 20 minutes

Ingredients:
12 cup granulated sugar
4 bananas, peeled and sliced into 1-inch-thick (2.5-centimeter) coins
2 tablespoons unsalted butter

Step 1: Make the dry caramel: Place a small nonstick pan over medium heat. When the pan is hot, sprinkle the sugar in an even layer over the bottom of the pan. Cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until the sugar is blond in color, 1 to 2 minutes.

Step 2: Caramelize the bananas: Place the bananas in the pan in an even layer. Cook for 1 minute, then flip and cook for 1 minute more, until the bananas are soft but not overly mushy.

Step 3: Deglaze the pan: Add the butter and let it melt, swirling the pan and stirring as it melts to deglaze the pan. (Don’t be intimidated — this isn’t deglazing with alcohol like on TV, so you won’t see a giant flambé flame in your kitchen. Here you’re simply deglazing the pan with a bit of liquid — in this case, the moisture in the butter — to help lift the caramelized bananas from the bottom of the pan and prevent them from burning.)

Step 4: Transfer the bananas to a large plate, placing them in an even layer, and let cool. (Don’t forget all the other good stuff in the pan — scrape any leftover caramel into an airtight container and let it cool, too, then drizzle over ice cream or pour into your coffee.)

Storage: The caramelized bananas can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days.

Excerpted from Everyone Can Bake by Dominique Ansel, (c) 2020 by Dominique Ansel. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY.


Vanilla Chantilly

Chantilly is, quite simply, a fancy term for whipped cream. But never underestimate how delicious simple whipped cream can be. That extra bit of Chantilly is the perfect finishing touch for everything from tarts to pavlovas, as it helps to harmonize flavors.

Makes 550 grams, enough for one 8-inch or 20-centimeter tart or one 8-inch or 20-centimeter cake, with leftover Chantilly
Time: 10 minutes

Ingredients:
2 cups and 2 tablespoons heavy cream, chilled
14 cup granulated sugar
3 grams Tahitian vanilla bean, split lengthwise and seeds scraped

Step 1: In a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment (or in a large bowl using a hand mixer or a whisk), combine the cream, sugar, and vanilla seeds and whip until the cream holds soft peaks, 3 to 4 minutes. (Make sure your cream is cold. If it’s room temperature or warm, it won’t whip up into fluffy peaks.) If you are whisking by hand, use a large metal bowl and steadily whisk for roughly 5 minutes until the cream reaches soft peaks.

Step 2: The Chantilly cream can be stored in the refrigerator in an airtight container, with plastic wrap pressed against the surface of the Chantilly to prevent a skin from forming, for up to 3 days. You may need to whip the Chantilly again prior to using it if it has deflated.

Excerpted from Everyone Can Bake by Dominique Ansel, (c) 2020 by Dominique Ansel. Reprinted by permission of Simon & Schuster, Inc, NY.

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