I served this to my family for our New Year’s brunch, but realized this recipe for Chocolate French Toast with Candied Bacon is going to be on the menu for quick breakfasts, sleepovers, weekend guests, and even for dessert now and then. It looks fancy and like you really took extra time in the kitchen, but it whips up in a snap. And best of all, it’s so, so delicious. We worried it might be too sweet and rich, but the Chocolate French toast turned out surprisingly light and not sweet at all, thanks to the balance of the bittersweet cocoa powder. Read on for how to get this quickly on the table and for a healthy –yes, “for reals”- option…
The recipe starts with Challah bread which is a sweeter bread than regular French bread. Challah isn’t readily available at all times of the year, so use whatever bread you like. Stale French bread, thick Texas toast or (here’s part of the healthy) even a 7-grain whole wheat bread. Buy any of these loaves unsliced or sliced thick (at least 3/4-inch thick). A mixture of pure cocoa powder, eggs, milk and vanilla makes the tasty batter. Sugar sweetens the batter but the sugar is actually not important or needed (yes, I’m serious). The bread soaks in the batter for just a few minutes. If you really want your French toast to be CHOCOLATE, soak for longer to seep the batter in even more. All my taste-testers liked it best with some of the bread still “unchocolate”.
After the quick soak, both sides of the bread gets grilled and browned in butter. Coconut oil is also a good frying option. One nice thing about this recipe too is, while the bread is soaking, you can get the fruit or syrup or whatever you’re serving with the French toast ready to plate.
Health-food-seeking friends look away for a minute while I talk about this candied bacon. Thanks to my dear friend for the suggestion, because candied bacon is the crowning touch for that sweet-salty combination that we seem to crave. Of course, you could serve this with regular bacon bits or strips, but the candied recipe here is surprisingly fast and really special. (I did use uncured bacon 😉 )
Whether you soak the French toast until it’s chocolate through and through, or leave it marbled like is beautiful here… Whether you doll it up for a sinful treat with the candied bacon, sweet white bread, and even maybe some hot fudge… Or whether you do what my husband prefers and leave the sugar out of the batter, use whole wheat bread, and add nuts and fruit (pumpkin seeds anyone?)… Chocolate French Toast with Candied Bacon must appear at your table soon. You’re gonna love it.
- ⅔ cup granulated sugar
- ⅓ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (natural or Dutch processed)
- ¼ teaspoon baking powder
- ¼ teaspoon table salt
- 1¼ cup whole milk
- 4 large eggs
- 1 generous teaspoon vanilla extract
- Good dash of cinnamon (optional)
- 1 loaf challah bread or any loaf bread sliced into ¾-inch slices (about 8 slices)
- Unsalted butter for cooking
- Pure maple syrup, confectioners' sugar, fresh strawberries, or sliced bananas, for garnish
- For candied bacon:
- 12 slices bacon
- ½ cup brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
- 1 teaspoon maple syrup
- Fresh cracked black pepper
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine the sugar cocoa powder, baking powder and salt. Whisk until well blended. Pour in about half of the milk and using a paddle attachment, stir the ingredients until mixture is a lump-free paste, about 30 seconds. Add the remaining milk, the eggs, vanilla extract and cinnamon (if using). Mix on low speed for 3 minutes.
- In a jelly roll pan (or similar vessel), arrange the bread in a single layer and pour the cocoa mixture over the bread. Turn the bread once to get both sides nicely coated. Poke each bread slice repeatedly with the tines of a fork to encourage the bread to absorb the batter. Let soak for approximately 10 minutes, turning once halfway through. (If you want the chocolate to soak in even more, let soak 20 minutes total, 10 minutes on each side.
- Set a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium heat (350F degrees works well for electrical). When the pan is hot, add butter and spread to cover the pan.
- Using your fingers and a large rubber spatula, carefully transfer the bread slices, one at a time, from the batter to the griddle. Cook until the underside looks browned and lightly crisp, 3 to 4 minutes. (Reduce the temperature if the slices are browning too fast.) Flip and continue cooking another 3 to 4 minutes. Have more butter ready to melt onto the pan as the toast is flipped onto the second side. (I use the parchment wrapper the butter comes in as a holding device and spread some of the butter quickly in the place where the bread is going to land. Just eyeball how much to melt.)
- Transfer the French toast to plates and serve immediately, serving with desired toppings.
- Use your imagination, depending on how "healthy" or decadent you want to go: If making healthy with whole wheat bread, serve with walnuts and bananas along with other fresh fruit or fruit puree. For a decadent "dessert" option, serve with hot fudge topping to drizzle along with the fruit and or bacon.
- To make the candied bacon: Preheat oven to 350F degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a medium bowl, combine the brown sugar, rice vinegar, cocoa powder, maple syrup and black pepper. Place the bacon strips in the bowl and toss to coat. Lay the bacon in strips on the parchment and bake approximately 20 minutes, until browned to your liking. Remove from oven and let bacon set in pan for 5 minutes. (Coating will have spread a lot, no worries, there's still plenty on the bacon.) Remove bacon to paper towels and let cool completely and harden. Using kitchen shears, cut to your liking for sprinkling over the French toast.
- Cook's note: If you're looking to really make this healthy, the sugar in the batter can be totally eliminated.