Cooking runs deep in my family. Along with my father, a lot of my aunts and uncles work in the culinary field. This makes for exceptional spreads at our family get-togethers.
Prepping for these parties includes a kitchen packed full of loud Filipinos, horrible jokes – that they somehow find ridiculously funny – and a lot of reminiscing.
Aside from my dad, my Tita Bheng (tita means aunt in Tagalog) has been one of my biggest mentors in cooking. From being her little sous chef in kitchen, to trading recipes and techniques today, she’s given me the knowledge and encouragement to help me grow as a culinarian.
The recipe I’m sharing today is one of hers. She had been raving about it one night at dinner, about the golden crust and creamy center and said, “You’ll see, tomorrow morning we will make it.”
And we did.
And I’m so glad we did as it’s become one of my favorite breakfasts.
It’s French toast that’s crusted in Honey Bunches of Oats cereal and stuffed with sweetened cream cheese.
This elevated version of French toast is absolutely divine.
It’s creamy, crunchy, tender and just the right amount of sweet.
Any variety of Honey Bunches cereal would work, but I prefer the one with almonds as it adds bites of nuttiness. And you can add berries or different extracts to the cream filling to suit your taste. I kept it simple as I added the blueberry topping – which, by the way, you can use on cheesecake, waffles, ice cream, yogurt, pancakes and more. But topped with fresh berries, or even just some maple syrup, would be just as delicious.
When cooking your French toast, be sure your pan is kept at medium-low heat. Anything higher will burn the sugars in the cereal and we want them to caramelize, making a beautiful golden crust that Tita Bheng would be proud of.
Crunchy Stuffed French Toast with Blueberry Compote
For the filling:
4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon lemon juice
1/2 cup powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
For the French toast:
1 loaf brioche or French bread, 12-16 slices, 1/2-inch-thick
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 cup flour
4-5 cups Honey Bunches of Oats cereal, crushed
1 stick unsalted butter, for cooking
For the blueberry topping:
2 1/2 cups fresh blueberries
3/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour
6 tablespoons water
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place a wire rack on a rimmed baking sheet, set aside.
In a small bowl, add the cream cheese, vanilla, lemon juice, powdered sugar and salt and beat until smooth.
Spread generously and evenly on half of the slices of bread and top with remaining slices.
In a shallow bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and flour. Put the crushed cereal in another shallow dish. Soak the bread in the egg mixture, turning once, about 20 seconds per side. (Remove before the bread is soggy.) Then dredge both sides of the soaked bread in the crushed cereal, pressing gently to help it adhere. Place on plate and repeat with remaining stuffed slices.
Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter in a skillet or griddle, over medium-low heat. Cooking in batches of 2, add the coated French toast to the melted butter and cook until golden, about 3-4 minutes. Add another tablespoon of butter, flip over and continue cooking the other side until golden. Transfer cooked French toast on prepared rack on baking sheet. Place in oven to finish cooking until the center is warm, about 15 minutes.
While its baking, start the topping. In a small saucepan, add the blueberries, sugar, flour, water, lemon juice and salt. Stir until thickened over medium heat, about 10 minutes.
Serve French toast sliced in half and topped with warm blueberry sauce.
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