Pecan Walnut French Toast with Spiced Winter Punch

Frech Toast with pecan and walnut

Weekends are a great time for a leisurely family breakfast. Skip the complicated recipes and impress your clan with this decadent and gourmet breakfast that can be prepared the night before but will look like fine dining in the morning! This breakfast will look and taste like you spent hours making it, and better yet, will fill your kitchen with the delicious aroma of sugar and spice and wonderful winter baking.

This week’s dish: Pecan Walnut French Toast with Spiced Winter Punch

Why we like it:

Both recipes require a little prep work at the start, but the main ingredient is just time.  The French toast can be prepared the night before and only needs to be popped into the oven in the morning, and the punch simply needs to simmer on the stove or in a slow cooker.  The punch pairs perfectly with the nutty sweetness of the French toast, adding a tart and spicy fruity flavor.

For the Spiced Winter Punch:

1 orange

8 whole cloves

3 cups apple juice

1 cup cranberry juice

1 cup pineapple juice

4 tbsp maple syrup (can substitute honey)

3 tbsp lemon juice

¼ tsp nutmeg

1 cinnamon stick

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Cut the orange into 4 segments and stud each segment with two whole cloves.  Bake in a small pan for 30 minutes.

Preparing oranges and cloves

While the oranges are baking, you can prepare the rest of the punch.  In a large saucepan or pot, combine the apple, cranberry, and pineapple juice.

Combining the juices

Add the maple syrup, lemon juice, nutmeg, and cinnamon stick.

Grinding the cinnamon stick

Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat to low and let the punch simmer for anywhere from 30 minutes to several hours. The flavors will continue to intensify the longer it simmers.  Once the oranges are baked, remove them from the oven and add to the punch.

Oranges simmering in juice

For the Pecan Walnut French Toast:

1 cup brown sugar

1/3 cup butter, melted

2 tbsp maple syrup

¼ cup chopped pecans

¼ cup chopped walnuts

6 (3/4 inch thick) slices crusty bread (or 12 slices French loaf)

2 tsp grated orange zest

1 cup orange juice

½ cup milk

3 tbsp white sugar

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp vanilla extract

5 eggs

powdered sugar, for dusting

First, stir together the brown sugar, melted butter, and maple syrup in a small bowl.  If you don’t have real maple syrup you can substitute corn syrup.

Mixing together sugar, syrup, and butter

Pour the sugar mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch baking dish and spread it evenly around the bottom of the entire dish.

Pouring the sugar onto the baking dish

Sprinkle the pecan and walnut pieces over the sugar mixture and place the bread slices into the dish as close together as possible.  If you are using a regular-sized loaf you will be able to fit 6 slices (either whole or sliced in half, depending on how many you will be serving), but if you are using a smaller French loaf, you should be able to fit 12 slices into the dish.

sprinkling the nuts in the sugar

Now you’ll need to make the egg mixture to coat the top of the bread.  Grate your orange zest.

Zesting the orange

In a medium-sized bowl, whisk together the orange zest, orange juice, and milk.

Adding milk to the orange

Add the white sugar and vanilla extract.

Mixing in vanilla and sugar

Add your ground cinnamon and 5 whole eggs.

Cracking eggs into the mixture

Whisk the mixture until all the ingredients are well incorporated.

Whisking all of the ingredients together

Pour the mixture over the bread slices, making sure to coat each slice evenly.  You can press on the bread slices to make sure they soak up as much of the mixture as possible.

Coating slices of bread in the egg mixture

When the bread is completely covered and soaking in the mixture, cover and refrigerate for at least an hour, or overnight.

Slices of french toast soaking in the egg

When you are ready to cook the French toast, preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Before baking, remove from the fridge, uncover it and let it stand for 20 minutes at room temperature.  Bake for 35 minutes, until the bread slices are golden brown on top.

Golden Brown french toast

When serving, flip the French toast so the candied pecans and walnuts are on top.  Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

French toast topped with nuts and powdered sugar



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