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Stuffed Wheat Beer French Toast with Mascarpone, Orange Zest, and Pistachios
Can I take a moment to talk about the weather? Winter is new to me. I never owned a wool coat until I moved to Brooklyn. I never carried hand warmers and a knit cap or knew what salt stains were. But I love it. I love watching the snow fall and cover everything in a clean white blanket. I love bundling up in layers before going outside and the excuse to drink spiked apple cider and hot toddies.
But last month it started to wear one me. There was very little snow in February, but there were several bitterly cold days paired with gray skies and icy sidewalks. As a result, I’ve been dreaming of warmer weather, the beach, and bike rides. Of weekend travels, outdoor dining, and spontaneous adventures in the city. Thankfully, Spring is right around the corner. I can’t wait to wake up early on that first sunny day and bicycle to brunch where I’ll sit outside and drink a bloody mary while soaking up as much Vitamin D as possible.
In the meantime, I’m preparing Spring inspired recipes such as the Stuffed Wheat Beer French Toast in the recipe that follows. The wheat beer and orange zest add a citrus forward brightness to the dish that balances the richness of the mascarpone while the pistachios provide texture and a mellow nutty flavor.
4 ounces mascarpone cheese
4 ounces cream cheese, softened
2 tablespoons powdered sugar
1 blood or naval orange, zested
3 Tablespoons finely chopped pistachios
6-1/2″ thick slices of brioche or challah bread
3 large eggs
1/2 cup (4 ounces) wheat beer
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 Tablespoons butter
Spiked Orange Syrup
2 Tablespoons brown sugar
1/4 cup fresh squeezed orange juice
1/4 cup bourbon or rum
1/2 cup maple syrup
To make the filling, mix together mascarpone, cream cheese, powdered sugar, zest of 1 orange, and pistachios in a medium bowl until well combined. Set aside.
Create a pocket in each slice of bread by using a paring knife to make a horizontal cut in the bread, taking care not to cut through the opposite edges. Carefully fill each bread pocket with the mascarpone filling. I like to use a pastry bag or ziploc with the corner cut off, but a butter knife also works well.
Set oven to Warm or the lowest temperature. While preheating, whisk together eggs, wheat beer, heavy cream, vanilla, brown sugar, cinnamon, ginger, and salt in a baking dish. Melt 2 Tablespoons butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, place the stuffed slices into the batter and soak for 10 seconds per side. Let any excess batter drip back into the dish then cook in the skillet for 4 to 5 minutes per side, adjusting the heat as needed, until golden brown. Transfer to a baking sheet placed in the oven to keep warm while preparing the remaining slices.
To make the syrup, combine brown sugar, orange juice, bourbon, and maple syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat; stir occasionally until sugar dissolves. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 5 minutes until reduced slightly.
Top mascarpone stuffed french toast with syrup, garnish with supremed orange slices and additional pistachios, if desired, and serve with a citrus-forward wheat beer.