Banana Split Brioche French Toast Stack
Banana Split Brioche French Toast Stack…yes…you have died and gone to Heaven. Well, food Heaven anyway. Or I have since I ate (as taste tester of course) the entire loaf of brioche. I’m not proud of myself at all and it may be a very long time before I can eat bread in any form again (tomorrow). You see, I love French toast but that hasn’t always been the case.
I’ve mentioned before that when I was younger, really as far back as I can remember, I was in the kitchen helping my mom cook. It wasn’t something that was optional in my house and although I hated it with every fiber of my being then, I am so thankful now. I have years of knowledge that I doubt I would have ever had the opportunity to experience if not. I’m very thankful.
My mom cooked every single meal without fail. She always had Southern buttermilk biscuits or cornbread on a daily basis. What I don’t remember having often is French toast. So when I was newly married and trying to make it, I decided it just wasn’t any good. That’s because mine wasn’t any good. The problem was, I wasn’t as skilled at making French toast and really didn’t know what I was doing. Now I’m not trying to act as if making French toast is difficult at all. It’s one of the easiest breakfast dishes I know of but the bread choice (in my opinion) is the most important thing and I had no clue. I was using plain (thin) white sandwich bread to start. It had no strength to hold up to the batter I was dipping it in and was always soggy. Yuck. But now I know. If you’ve got a really good bread, you’re half way there.
The ingredients you use at this point don’t make a huge difference when adjusting or substituting. I use half and half or heavy cream. Some people use milk. I don’t think it matters at all. Some people add a little orange juice to the batter, I added a dash of Frangelico but you could leave out both. I just love the nutty flavor. Some people use cinnamon, I used just a couple scrapings of fresh nutmeg. French toast is one of those dishes you can play around with the flavors and still come out with something amazing.
I was at a local European style bakery this week and bought a loaf of fresh brioche and that’s where this all began. Brioche is a French bread, normally in loaf form but can be made into rolls, that’s buttery and very slightly sweet. I looked into making it once but was discouraged because it took hours. This loaf was $3.50 and was amazing. So worth it!
As I said, there are so many options but I wanted something different and a little decadent. Banana Split French Toast was born.
The next most important thing (also in my opinion) about French toast is the thickness of the bread. If you’re making it, try and grab an unsliced loaf so that you control the thickness. I sliced my loaf about twice (or even a little more) the size of thick sandwich bread. Somewhere around the Texas toast size. It also helps if the bread is day old but if not, don’t sweat it.
Since I wanted to make banana splits I started with a banana. I wanted to get that out of the way and have all my prep done so that when the toast slices came off the heat I could immediately assemble and eat. I took a banana that was fairly firm and cut it in the middle and then sliced longways giving me 4 slender pieces. I put those in a buttered cast iron pan and cooked them for a few minutes until there was a little browning on either side.
I then whipped up the batter using cream, eggs, a dash of vanilla, a dash of Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur, a dash of maple syrup, a pinch of salt and a few swipes on a microplane of fresh nutmeg. Be careful with that. A little too much and you’ll ruin just about anything and a little bit goes a long way.
I always use a heavy cast iron skillet. Actually I use cast iron for anything I can. It doesn’t create hot spots and conducts the heat so well. It also gives the prettiest color to anything you cook in it when it’s properly seasoned. More on that later. If you don’t have several cast iron pans, get one or more. They’re not expensive at all, will last a lifetime and you’ll fall in love.
I dunked my bread slices in the batter and then on a hot, buttered skillet and browned them. I wipe the skillet down with a paper towel and tongs between each batch of toast. That helps to keep the left over butter in the pan from browning too much and burning.
Let’s go over assembly. For this Banana Split Brioche French Toast Stack I started by covering one side of each finished slice with a heavy coat of mascarpone cheese. Mascarpone is an Italian, slightly sweetened cream cheese and it’s amazing. I didn’t sweeten it since there’s so much to this recipe that’s sweet and I wanted it to remain fresh and creamy but you could add a little honey if you like. I then placed two banana slices on top and sprinkled berries. I repeated with the second slice and put it on top of the first. That’s the stack.
I shaved some dark chocolate on the stack and also drizzled with salted caramel sauce. If I were serving this for family or guests, I would make the stacks and then offer chocolate sauce, salted caramel, whipped cream, nuts and syrup so that each person could customize their own. Fun!
I also made some fresh whipped cream. It’s the simplest thing ever but here’s a tip. If you’ll freeze your metal bowl and beater prior to beginning your cream will begin to form peaks much faster. To make, you just add the desired amount of heavy cream to a mixing bowl along with just a little sugar (to taste) and a little vanilla (also to taste) and whip until soft peaks begin to form. It’s as simple as that!
After I devoured this entire loaf almost completely on my own, I got another idea. You’ll see a new recipe for French toast really soon that (not to spoil anything because this is one of the best French toast recipes I’ve ever had) might even be better than this one! Whaattt???? Yep.
- 1 loaf French Brioche sliced thick (my medium to small loaf produced 8 slices)
- 6 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- pinch of salt
- dash of maple syrup
- 1/8 cup Frangelico Hazelnut Liqueur
- 2 scrapes with a microplane of fresh nutmeg
- 4 bananas, peeled, cut in half and sliced lengthwise
- 1 1/2 cups mixed berries of your choice, washed and dried
- butter for skillet, softened (I used a little more than half a stick)
- 8 ounces mascarpone cheese
- Toppings: salted caramel sauce, chocolate sauce, whipped cream, nuts, maple syrup
- First, wash and dry your berries, get your toppings ready and make your whipped cream.
- In a heavy cast iron skillet, add a pat of butter and banana and cook until just beginning to brown on each side. Set aside with other assembly ingredients.
- Wipe cast iron skillet with a paper towel.
- In a large shallow dish, whisk together eggs, cream, vanilla, salt, dash of maple syrup, Frangelico and nutmeg.
- In same skillet, melt a big pat of butter over medium heat.
- Working with two pieces of bread at a time, dredge the bread in the batter and heavily coat both sides evenly.
- Immediately place pieces of coated bread into hot skillet and cook until desired level of brownness is reached.
- Repeat with remaining slices of bread keeping finished toast warm while working on remainder.
- To assemble, using two slices of toast per serving, coat one side of each slice with a heavy smear of mascarpone.
- Place one clean side down on a plate and top with half a banana and some berries.
- Place the second slice on top of that and repeat.
- Do the same for each of the other 3 servings.
- Serve with syrup and garnishes.
What’s your most favorite French toast combination? Mine is either this one or the next one you’ll see here. I can’t wait to show you!!