My name is Hope, and I am addicted to brunch. Seriously. The other day, whilst dining at a breakfast buffet with my family, I told my husband that I have a deep passion for make-your-own omelet bars. He looked at me like I was nuts. There's something about an abundance of sweet and savory food in the late morning that fills me with delight. Brunch is my favorite meal to eat out (it doesn't hurt that my kids are generally happiest at this time of day), and it is also my favorite meal for entertaining.
That said, I am always on the lookout for new brunch recipes, and I am particularly drawn to recipes that you can make in advance and throw in the oven in the morning. Put on a pot of coffee, slice up some fruit, and you are done. This recipe was perfect for our Christmas morning festivities - I made it the night before, stuck it in the fridge, then baked it while we exchanged gifts. It also happens to be insanely good. Remember that sentence above where I mentioned my love for sweet and savory food? Well, this killer recipe is BOTH! The sweetness of the pears perfectly balances the saltiness of the Brie, and the French toast component brings it all together in perfect harmony. Yum.
This recipe was found on the pages of a Better Homes and Gardens Special Interest Publication that I picked up at the checkout counter a few years ago. I don't do this often, but this one caught my eye ("Quick and Easy Recipes: 250 Weeknight Meals in Minutes"), and there are easily thirty recipes in here that I have tried and have loved. I often completely bomb on these impulse purchases, so this one has been a treat.
Enjoy, and happy brunching!
Baked French Toast with Pears and Brie
Prep: 35 minutes
Chill: 1 to 24 hours
Bake: 40 minutes
Stand: 10 minutes
Makes: 8 servings
3 medium pears, peeled, cored and thinly sliced
2 tbsp packed brown sugar (use a little more if pears not really sweet)
1/2 tsp snipped fresh rosemary (I used about 1/4 tsp dried)
2 tbsp butter
14 to 16 1/2 inch thick slices French bread
8 oz. Brie cheese, rind removed and cheese thinly sliced (it's easier to slice if slightly frozen)
2 tbsp butter, melted
3 tbsp granulated sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
2 1/2 cups milk
1 tbsp vanilla
1/4 tsp salt
1. Grease a rectangular baking dish. Set aside.
2. In a large skillet, cook pear slices, brown sugar, and rosemary in 2 tbsp butter over medium heat for 4 to 5 minutes or until pears are just tender. Set aside.
3. In the prepared baking dish, arrange half of the bread slices in a single layer. Spoon pear mixture over bread slices. Arrange Brie slices over pear mixture. Top with remaining bread slices in a single layer. Brush bread slices with melted butter. In a small bowl, combine granulated sugar and cinnamon. Sprinkle evenly over bread slices.
4. In a medium bowl, whisk together milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt. Slowly pour over bread slices. Cover and chill for 1 to 24 hours.
5. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Bake casserole, uncovered, for 40 to 45 minutes or until edges are puffed and golden. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve warm with warmed syrup, honey, or fruit preserves.