~ Finger Food: Eggnog Brioche French Toast Sticks ~
Finger foods for breakfast? Heck yea. Well-seasoned tailgaters and football fans do it all the time. New Years -- 'Tis the season to gather together for bowl parties -- no knives, forks or spoons required. Appetizers and snacks commonly found at our early-morning finger-food pub-grub buffets are mini-quiche tartlets, bacon wrapped shrimp, hot crab dip, sausage balls, deviled ham and/or salmon spread with bagel chips, and, a big plate of French toast sticks with a bowl of warm maple syrup sitting in the center for dipping. It's always the duty of the host to prepare "the sticks" and deliver them, golden brown, crispy and hot, to the table just prior to kickoff.
It's like being the candlestick maker only for food (haha -- the butcher, the baker, the French toast stick maker). The French words for French toast are "pain perdu", meaning "lost bread", because it is a way of reviving bread which becomes dry after a day or two. The concept for French toast is simple: Thickly-sliced, 2-3-day old bread is dipped into a flavored egg/cream mixture, then fried in a skillet containing a coating of oil. When executed correctly, it emerges crisp and golden brown on both sides with a creamy, almost pudding-like center.
French toast slices are typically served topped with butter, maple syrup, fruit preserves or powdered sugar and eaten with a knife and fork (although I "don't get" the fascination with powdered sugar as it's cloyingly sweet). Almost any type of stale-ish bread can be used, but in my opinion, only two types produce superior French toast: brioche and egg challah (ha-la). Both are yeast breads that are enriched with eggs and sugar. Brioche, which I make regularly in my bread machine, is what I use. That said, for the New Years holiday, I make a slightly jazzier version of brioche ~ Eggnog Breakfast Brioche in the Bread Machine ~ and make French toast sticks with it. Just click on the Related Article link below to get this festive bread recipe.
4 jumbo eggs, preferably at room temperature
1 cup pasteurized eggnog
2 teaspoons butter-rum flavoring
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract, not imitation
sugar 'n cinnamon, for sprinkling on finished French toast sticks
pure maple syrup, for dipping or drizzling
peanut or corn oil, for frying
~ Step 1. Slice 6 slices of bread to a thickness of 3/4". If it is thinner or thicker, it will affect the frying time. Remove the crust from each slice, then, slice each slice into 5, 3/4" sticks. You will have 30 total sticks.
Note: My eggnog brioche contains cinnamon and nutmeg, so there is no need to add it to the liquid. If you are using plain brioche, whisk 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg into the liquid mixture.
Note: For 30 sticks of bread, the "magic measurement" is 2 cups.
~Step 3. Transfer the egg/eggnog mixture to a 13" x 9" x 2" baking dish. Place 5 broiche sticks into the mixture and allow the sticks to soak for 1 1/2 minutes on one side, then flip them over and allow them to soak a second 1 1/2 minutes on the second side, for a total of 3 full minutes.
~Step 4. Place 5 brioche sticks into a 12" skillet to which a coating (1/16") of oil has been placed over medium-high heat. To test the oil temperature, drop 1/4 teaspoon of the egg/eggnog mixture into skillet. If it sizzles immediately, the oil is hot enough. Do not overcrowd the skillet -- trust me when I tell you: working in batches of 5 at a time works perfectly. The moment you place the first 5 sticks of brioche in the skillet, start soaking the second 5 sticks of brioche, 1 1/2 minutes per side, in the remaining egg/eggnog mixture. Fry the first 5 sticks of brioche until golden on all four sides, for a total of about 3 minutes. Remove the first 5 sticks of brioche from the skillet and place on a warmed serving plate that as been lined with paper towels. Repeat the process until all brioche sticks are fried and drained on paper towels. Game on!
Serve w/cinnamon 'n sugar & warmed maple syrup for dipping:
Special Equipment List: cutting board; serrated bread knife; 2-cup measuring container; 13" x 9" x 2" casserole; 12" skillet; spatula; fork; paper towels
"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti
(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)