White Chocolate and Blueberry Baked Challah French Toast

Recipe and photo by Tami Ganeles Weiser Yield:  16 servings
Prep Time:  45 minutes Cook Time:  50 minutes

White Chocolate and Blueberry Baked Challah French Toast

The French don’t say French toast; they say pain perdu, or lost bread, because it’s made with bread that’s just a bit stale. But there’s nothing lost about this dish! Rich white chocolate, sweet wild blueberries, creamy mascarpone, and a spiced streusel topping combine to give it complexity above and beyond typical French toast. It makes a lovely brunch dish. Plus, it’s absolutely delicious!

Ingredients

3 large eggs, room temperature

2 cups milk, room temperature (see Kitchen Tip)

1 (8-ounce) package mascarpone cheese, room temperature

1 cup (204 grams) granulated sugar

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 pound (2- to 3-day old) Butter Challah or good-quality store-bought challah, cut into 1-inch chunks (6 to 7 cups; see Kitchen Tip)

8 ounces (227 grams) white chocolate, couverture strongly preferred, chopped roughly (about 1⅔ cups)

6 cups fresh blueberries, Maine wild berries preferred if in season (see Kitchen Tip)

½ cup (65 grams) all-purpose unbleached flour

3 tablespoons (39 grams) light brown sugar

½ teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg (see Kitchen Tip)

½ teaspoon ground ginger

½ stick (4 tablespoons/¼ cup/57 grams) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch cubes and chilled

Instructions

  1. Spray a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with nonstick vegetable oil spray. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, mascarpone, sugar, and salt until smooth and lump free.
  3. Place the challah cubes into the baking dish, spreading them out evenly. Pour the egg mixture over the challah, covering it all. Press the challah down with a  spatula or large spoon for 5 to 7 minutes, or until it  is completely saturated. Sprinkle with about 1 cup of the white chocolate, distributing it evenly over the challah.
  4. Pour the blueberries into a mixing bowl. Add the flour, brown sugar, nutmeg, and ginger, and stir to combine. Using a slotted spoon or your hands, transfer the blueberries to the challah mixture, distributing them evenly over the baking dish. Reserve the spiced flour in the bowl.
  5. Add the butter to the remaining spiced flour mixture and, using a pastry blender or your fingers, cut or rub the butter into the flour until it resembles very coarse meal and a little extra flour. Sprinkle this mixture, along with the rest of the chocolate, over the top of the challah and blueberries, distributing it evenly, and place the dish into a roasting pan. Place the nested pans in the oven, and with the door open (and no small children or pets bounding around), add 2  cups of water into the roasting pan (not the challah’s baking  dish!), making sure that the water will not rise and get into the challah.  Bake for 40 to 50 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out tacky with only a few crumbs on it and the mixture is still a bit jiggly and isoft.

Kitchen Tips

  1. This recipe works well with any type of milk—nonfat, low fat or reduced fat.
  2. I like the distinctive flavor of wild blueberries, but if you can’t find them or if they’re not in season, frozen wild blueberries are widely available. Wyman’s of Maine is an excellent brand.
  3. Nutmeg is available ground, but if you buy the whole nutmeg, and grate it yourself, the flavor and fragrance will be much stronger. Look for it in specialty spice stores or good supermarket spice sections.
  4. This recipe is wonderful with brioche, old croissants, whole wheat challah rolls—really any enriched dough works well. Each is a bit different. The brioche and croissants make a creamier, more buttery version—which is great for dessert—and any challah should make a version more substantive, a little egg-ier and more breakfast-like. It’s delicious any way you go.

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