Every holiday season, New York City- and Napa-based chef Brad Farmerie blends batches of homemade hazelnut-chocolate spread, and his wife, Jocelyn, packages it as holiday gifts for friends and family. Farmerie is keen on adding the addicting mixture to his banana-and-bacon-stuffed French toast. We wholly support this tack, but we're just as likely to be found scooping it straight from the jar.
French Toast Stuffed with Hazelnut-Chocolate Spread, Bananas and Bacon
Recipe adapted from Brad Farmerie, The Thomas, Napa, CA
Yield: 4 servings
Cook Time: 50 minutes
1 cup hazelnuts
½ pound milk chocolate, roughly chopped
¼ cup demerara or light brown sugar
½ teaspoon kosher salt
¼ cup vegetable oil
8 bacon strips
8 thick slices of sourdough bread (about 1 medium loaf)
2 large ripe bananas, peeled and sliced into thin pieces, divided
4 large eggs
¼ cup whole milk
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, divided
Confectioners' sugar, for dusting
Maple syrup (preferably Grade B), for serving
1. Make the hazelnut-chocolate spread: Preheat the oven to 350°. Place the hazelnuts on a rimmed baking sheet. Toast in the oven until the nuts are fragrant and golden brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Wrap the nuts in a kitchen towel and rub to remove as much of the skins as possible. Add the warm nuts, chocolate, sugar and salt to a food processor and purée until smooth, adding the oil in a slow and steady stream until well combined. Transfer the hazelnut-chocolate spread to an airtight container and keep at room temperature. (It will thicken over a few days. To loosen to a slightly more spreadable consistency, heat in the microwave for about 5 seconds.)
2. Make the French toast: In a medium skillet set over medium heat, add the bacon and cook until the strips are browned and crisp on both sides, about 8 minutes total. Use a pair of tongs to remove the slices from the pan and transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
3. Lay the sourdough bread on a cutting board. Evenly coat each bread slice with the hazelnut-chocolate spread (reserve extra hazelnut-chocolate spread for serving).
4. In a medium bowl, use a fork to smash together about half of the bananas slices until a chunky mash forms. Spread the mashed bananas over 4 of the hazelnut-chocolate spread bread slices. Coarsely chop the bacon and sprinkle over the banana mash. Place the sliced bananas on top of the bacon and cover with the remaining 4 hazelnut-chocolate spread slices, pressing down lightly so they stick together. Place the sandwiches in a single layer in a large, ovenproof baking dish.
5. In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs until frothy. Whisk in the milk. Pour the egg-milk mixture over the sandwiches and carefully turn them over to coat evenly with the egg-milk mixture.
6. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of the butter. Once the butter is melted, add two of the sandwiches and cook until golden brown, 5 to 7 minutes. Carefully flip and cook the other side until golden brown, about 5 minutes more. Transfer to a cutting board and repeat with the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter and sandwiches. Halve the stuffed French toast on a bias, dust with confectioners' sugar and serve with maple syrup and additional hazelnut-chocolate spread on the side.