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March 14, 2006

As Promised...

...brunch recipes. Or one of them, anyway. It started as something I found on Epicurious, but it wasn't nearly interesting enough for a special occasion brunch, so I jazzed it up a bit. Being a savory breakfast person, I was concerned that the sweet would be overly abusive, but it turned out quite nicely. There are a number of components involved, but they're all fairly simple to prepare.

Dominic Armato
Vanilla Pain Perdu with
Apricot Syrup and
Maple Mascarpone

Serves 4

1/2 C. sugar
2/3 C. water
4 star anise
1 Tbsp. Cointreau
3/4 C. diced dried apricots
4 thick slices challah, or other egg bread
6 eggs
1/2 C. whole milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 C. mascarpone cheese
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
4 Tbsp. unsalted butter
powdered sugar

First, prep the apricot syrup. Combine the sugar, water and star anise in a heavy saucepan and heat over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Bring to a boil, add the Cointreau, and immediately reduce the heat to medium-low. After a minute, add the apricots, and simmer gently until the apricots have softened and the mixture has reached a syrup consistency. If the apricots need more time to soften but the syrup is getting too thick, add a touch of warm water and continue cooking. Keep warm over very low heat, or cool and reheat before assembling the dish.

In a large dish, beat together the eggs, milk and vanilla. Place the slices of bread in the dish, and allow to sit for 4-5 minutes to soak up the egg mixture. Then, flip the slices of bread and allow them to soak for another 4-5 minutes.

While the bread is soaking, prepare the maple mascarpone. Whisk together the mascarpone cheese and maple syrup and chill.

Once the bread is done soaking, melt one tablespoon of the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. When the butter foams, swirl it around the pan and add two slices of the bread. Cook the bread until it is browned. Add another tablespoon of the butter and flip the bread to brown the other side. When the bread is finished cooking, remove it and hold it in a warm oven. Wipe the skillet clean, and repeat the process with the remaining two slices of bread.

To assemble the dish, plate the bread in some interesting fashion, drizzle it with the maple mascarpone and apricot syrup, dust with a bit of powdered sugar, and strategically place the star anise to make it look all fancy-schmancy. Then snarf it like the gussied-up french toast it is.


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