About nine years ago, my aunt opened a bed and breakfast in downtown Dallas. It is an adorable six-bedroom house that serves up a mean breakfast. Sometimes I help my aunt cook breakfast on the weekends when she has a full house. One of her signature dishes is a thick piece of French toast stuffed with orange marmalade and cream cheese. I have seen her make it over and over again. As each plate went through the swinging door and out of the kitchen, each returned completely empty. I assumed that it was pretty tasty, but I had never actually had the opportunity to try it. It wasn’t until very recently that I got a chance to taste her French toast.
Since I had quite a bit of homemade strawberry-rhubarb jam in my freezer, I decided that I would make my own version of my aunt’s best breakfast for myself. A whipped cream cheese and berry jam filling is piped into a thick pice of challah bread. I brighten up the filling with some lemon zest. You need a pretty thick slice of bread so that you can stuff as much filling as humanly possible into the French toast. In my opinion, this French toast is so good that it doesn’t even need maple syrup.
Challah French toast stuffed with a cream cheese and berry jam mixture
- 8 ounces cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup strawberry jam
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- 4 large eggs
- 1 cup whole milk
- ½ teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
- 1 (1 pound) loaf challah bread, cut into 6 slices
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Powdered sugar, for dusting
1. Stir together the cream cheese, jam, and lemon zest in a small bowl.
2. Whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt in a shallow baking dish. Using a paring knife, cut a horizontal slit in the side of each slice of bread to create a pocket. Spoon the cream cheese filling into the pockets of each bread slice. Soak the bread in one layer in the custard for 1 to 2 minutes per side.
3. Melt 2 tablespoons of butter on a large griddle over medium heat. Working in batches, add the soaked bread to the griddle and cook for 4 to 5 minutes per side, until golden brown. Continue to cook the remaining bread slices, adding more butter as needed. Dust with powdered sugar and serve.
Instead of using marmalade like my aunt, I used some of the strawberry-rhubarb jam that has taken refuge in my freezer. But if you’re not up for that particular adventure today, use whatever you have on hand. Any kind of marmalade or jam will be delicious in this stuffed French toast. This breakfast is a decadent bite of pure heaven. French toast is great, but it’s even better with a sweet surprise inside. Dust it with some powdered sugar and you’ve got yourself one spectacular breakfast!