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Cardamom Pear French Toast with Lemongrass Crème Anglaise
My mind was all sorts of unorganized when I first selected these ingredients. Cardamom, pears, and lemongrass really would work beautifully in many dishes and I couldn’t decide which direction I wanted to take it. So beautiful would have been a curry but it was Sunday and I owed my kiddos some French toast!
I am admittedly not a big fan of pancakes. I tend to lean more on the side of savory breakfast but my kids love French toast! Challah bread or a big beautiful brioche are my breads of choice for French toast. If I am going to do it, I’m doing it right and there is a no soggy French toast sign on my door. (okay, well there isn’t actually one but there should be; I do however have a lite marquee sign that says EAT) :). A common mistake people make is that they don’t allow the custard to soak into the bread long enough. That is why I always set my dipped slices in a sheet pan and pour over the remaining custard to soak in while I heat my pan or griddle. Another common mistake that I actually used to make is to use only butter when cooking my French toast. Butter really does make everything better but, in this case, when you want a beautiful color and the opportunity to cook the French toast thoroughly you need to use a combination of butter and oil. The oil will increase the smoke point allowing you to operate at higher temperature for longer without burning your toast.
Now you’ve got your toast mastered you are free to add whatever toppings you like. The cardamom works so nicely with the caramelized pears adding interest and warmth with a beautiful floral background. Putting the French toast over the top I have finished it with a simple crème anglaise that I has been infused with lemongrass. The lemongrass smooths out the richness of the sauce and pairs perfectly with the cardamom.
I hope you give this French toast a try and treat yourself to the beautiful breakfast you deserve!
Fluffy French Toast with Caramelized Cardamom Pears Served with a Lemongrass Crème Anglaise. The rich custard of the french toast is accented by the floral notes that only cardamom can bring and to put this dish over the top it is served with a light citrus lemongrass sauce.
- 2 cups half and half
- 2 stalks lemongrass tender center finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 4 large egg yolks
- 4 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground cardamom crack open green pods and crush the black seeds with a mortar and pestle
- 4 medium bartlett pears peeled, cored and thickly sliced
- 1/8 teaspoon sea salt flake style
- 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
- 2 large eggs
- 3 large egg yolks
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 8 slices challah bread 3/4 inch thick
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter divided
- 2 tablespoons canola/vegetable oil divided
Place fine mesh strainer inside a medium sized bowl. Place bowl inside a larger bowl filled with ice. This will stop the sauce from cooking and cool it immediately so you don't end up with scrambled eggs. In a medium sized saucepan over medium heat cook half and half, lemongrass and zest until a very light simmer; about 3 minutes. In another small bowl whisk together egg yolks and granulated sugar until combined. Using a ladle slowly pour one ladle full of the heated half and half into the egg yolk mixture whisking to combine. Repeat this process with another ladle full. Return egg mixture to saucepan and heat over medium heat stirring frequently until mixture thickens; 4-5 minutes. Remove from heat and immediately pour mixture through mesh strainer into bowl and allow to cool in the ice bath. Discard lemongrass and lemon zest left behind and refrigerate sauce until needed.
In medium sized non stick skillet melt butter over medium heat until foaming subsides. Add freshly ground cardamom and pears cooking for 3-4 minutes or until pears are slightly browned. Add brown sugar to pan and stir once to combine. Continue to cooking for an additional 6-7 minutes for pears to caramelize. Remove pears from heat and season with 1/8 teaspoon of sea salt. Set aside and keep warm.
In medium sized bowl whisk together, heavy cream, eggs, egg yolks, cinnamon, and vanilla until well combined. Dip challah bread sliced into custard mixture for at least 30 seconds each side. Set dipped bread slices onto a sheet pan. Pour any remaining custard over slices to be soak while you heat up your pan. In large nonstick pan heat 1 tablespoon of butter and 1 tablespoon of oil over medium high heat. Add 4 toast slices to pan and cook for 3 minutes each side. Set aside and repeat with remaining butter, oil and toast slices. To serve place 1 piece of french toast onto each persons plate. Top with pears followed by another piece of french toast. Lastly top each plate with remaining pears and drizzle with lemongrass crème anglaise. Serve immediately
Using a combination of butter and oil to cook your french toast in will result in your toast cooking perfectly through without burning as the oil has a higher smoke point than butter.