Want to wow your Mom on Mothers Day? Make her some Crème Brulee French Toast. It’s the perfect balance between caramel and custard flavors. Top with whipped cream and strawberries for an elegant breakfast mom won’t forget.
Crème Brulee is one of my favorite desserts. I love the contrast between the crunchy caramelized sugar on top and the creamy rich vanilla custard on the bottom. A good crème brulee has the right balance of both. One of my favorite Austin restaurants, Chez Zee, has found a way to combine these two flavors in french toast. And let me tell you, their Crème Brulee French Toast is to….die… for.
Most people know Chez Zee for their amazing desserts – they have great cakes, cheesecakes and pastries – but their best kept secret is breakfast. Compared to their desserts, the crème brulee french toast is not much to look at. It looks like a large wedge of plain cake drizzled with syrup and served with whipped cream and strawberries on the side. Looks can be deceiving- the flavor is unforgettably good.
The chef once told me they prepare their crème brulee french toast the night before but that was his only clue about how they make it. With Mother’s day coming up, I’ve been dreaming of the breakfast I wish my kids would make me (you know, the one that tastes great but miraculously leaves no mess in the kitchen). Since I’m in Cambodia, there’s no going to Chez Zee so I’ve been experimenting with my own version of their Crème Brulee French Toast.
Challah bread is great for making french toast. If you haven’t tried it, it’s similar to Brioche but more eggy. When I was a kid, there was a Jewish bakery in my neighborhood so we always had fresh challah and bagels. I haven’t seen challah bread in Phnom Penh so I used RecipeGirl’s Sweet Challah Bread for this recipe. It makes a HUGE loaf so you’ll only need half (if that).
For my first attempt, I baked my challah in an angelfood pan so I could slice it in wedges. I made a crème brulee custard but substituted brown sugar for the white sugar to give it more of a caramel flavor. After soaking the wedges overnight and pan frying them, the result was underwhelming. It tasted just like regular french toast but a bit richer.
For round 2, I decided wedges were too difficult so I made a regular loaf of challah and cut thick straight slices (about 1.5″ thick). I made caramelized sugar in a saucepan and then used that to flavor the custard. Since I’m the kind of mom that doesn’t like to stare at a saucepan too long, I added my scalding milk/cream to the caramelized sugar, stirred as much as I could and then let it sit to cool while the rest of the sugar dissolved. I reheated it gently to dissolve the last few chunks of carmelized sugar.
The reason you soak overnight is because the slices are thick. If you want so shorten the process, use thinner slices of challah but it is nice to wake up to french toast that’s ready to go in the frying pan. To get the final crispy outer layer, I dredged both sides of my slices in brown sugar before frying them in butter. The flavor is amazing! No need for syrup but absolutely fabulous with whipped cream and berries.
If you really like strawberries and french toast, you might like this overnight strawberry cheesecake french toast casserole from Mom on Timeout.
Or this Berry Chocolate French Toast Casserole from A Treats Affair.
Or this baked cinnamon french toast from 365 days of baking.
Or if you’d like a simple breakfast treat that features chocolate, try these chocolate-filled pastries
or if you’d like to make mom something a little more nutritious, try this yogurt with banana and honey almond crumble from The Hungry Couple.