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Chocolate French Toast with Candied Bacon

This recipe is excellent for a special brunch or even a quick breakfast. The candied bacon is a show-stopper, but this is just delicious with syrup and fresh fruit. Use challah bread (a sweet braided bread) if you can find it, but stale French bread or even healthier 7-grain bread will work well.
Prep Time25 mins
Cook Time8 mins
Total Time33 mins
Course: Breakfast
Servings: 8 slices
Author: Good Dinner Mom

Ingredients

  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, natural or Dutch processed
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon table salt
  • 1 1/4 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 3/4-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
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon cocoa powder
  • 1 teaspoon maple syrup
  • Fresh cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • 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.