14 March 2010

French Toast with Caramelized Bananas and Walnuts

French Toast with Caramelized Bananas and Walnuts

Welcome to the weekend!!!TGIS!!!! I imagine you have slept in a bit if you were able to. Oh how I wish that I could languish under the covers for just a few hours more but my body makeup just won't allow it. I find myself up at the same time every day and raring to go no matter what. With the time change in effect as of last night I suppose in theory I did sleep in for the first time since this same day last year:D I'd have to say I am definitely a morning person. How about you?

Spring has arrived in full force!!!! The time change confirms it. The return of the robins and morning doves, the bloom of the forsythia all confirm it... and let's not forget maple syrup season!!! These are truly all signs of more to come. What I remember most about growing up in the province of Ontario in eastern Canada was heading to the sugar bush in the early Spring...March to be exact... with my family.  There is no finer sound to the ear than the soft crystal granular crunch of snow underfoot along with the familiar aroma of burning wood  from the sugar shack intermingled with the unforgettable and mouth watering sweet scent of natures tree nectar lingering in the air. A trip to the sugarbush with the family would never be complete without the taste of fresh 'hot-off-the grill' pancakes and sausages smothered in Canadian maple syrup. This would all mean that Spring has arrived or at least is not far off for those of you in Eastern Canada. These traditions I passed down to my own daughter and even if we no longer live in the east these cherished memories are burned in our minds forever. Of course living in the west we do not have the maple forests so there are no trips to the sugar bush but on the coast they do produce birch syrup here which has a distinctive flavour of its own. Someday I may be lucky enough to be on the coast and witness the production first hand.

 Long before the Europeans arrived in North America, the native peoples of Eastern Canada were collecting sap from maple trees and heating it in hollowed-out logs until it was syrupy. The boiling of sap to make maple syrup and maple sugar is one of the oldest traditions in North America and is part of Canada’s heritage. Canada is famous around the world for its pure maple syrup. Though all trees produce sap, maple trees produce greater quantities with a sweeter taste which the pioneers capitalized on. Only a few varieties of maple trees (found in southeastern Canada and northeastern United States) have the high sugar content necessary for maple syrup.  
  • Maple syrup is a distinctly North American product. Canada produces about 83% of the world's supply. Quebec produces nearly 92% of this, Ontario 4% and the Maritime Region (New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island) 4%. Maple syrup is also produced in the Northeastern United States from Minnesota to Maine and south to West Virginia. 
  •  During the sugaring season, the average tree yields 35 to 50 litres of sap, which produces one to 1.5 litres of maple syrup. On average, it takes 40 litres of sap to make one litre of syrup. 
  •  Birch syrup, made from birch trees, is used the same way as maple syrup but is more difficult to make (and this is reflected in the price). On average, it takes 80 to 100 litres of sap to produce one litre of syrup (twice that needed for maple syrup).
I always have maple syrup in the refrigerator even if I have to purchase it at Costco. Whenever we have vistors from the East it is a requirement that they must bring at least one litre of maple syrup with them or they are just not welcome...just kidding...but do keep it in mind:D

This recipe is based on one I found in Canadian Living magazine. This year they are celebraing their 35th anniversary so they have been around for a while and still going strong. In fact I always remember as a teenager wanting to work for that publication. I don't know whatever happened to that dream but here we are.

Notes: The orginal recipe called for using toasted pecans but one of my favourite ice creams has always been Maple Walnut so this combination appealed to me more. When making French toast my preference is to use Italian bread for that chewy effect I love, but use any type you prefer from cinnamon swirl to brioche. The cooking time for the bananas is dependent on how ripe they are so to avoid an unappealing result be mindful of the total cooking time. Oh and don't forget the rum which makes this an adult only breakfast. The kids can have straight maple syrup for their sugar high:D

Enjoy the recipe!

 **French Toast with Caramelized Bananas and Walnuts**
Print me....

 1/3 cup(75 mL) chopped walnuts
6 eggs
1-1/2 cups( 375 mL) 5% cream or milk
2 tablespoons (25 mL) maple syrup
1 teaspoon (5 mL) cinnamon
1 teaspoon (5 mL) vanilla
1/4 tsp (1 mL) salt
1 loaf (1 lb/500 h) Italian bread
2 tablespoons (25 mL) butter

 Caramelized Bananas

 2 tablespoons (25 mL) butter
6 firm ripe bananas, halved crosswise and lengthwise
3/4 cup (175 mL) maple syrup
1/2 cup (125 mL) packed brown sugar
1/4 cup (50 mL) corn syrup
1/4 cup (50 mL) dark rum

In baking sheets, toast walnuts in 325F (160C) oven, about 6 minutes. Set aside. (To toast nuts I usually take the easy way out and add my nuts to a pyrex plate which I put in the microwave on HIGH for approximately 1 minute. Depending on the amount of nuts on the plate, you may need to add minutes to your cooking time until you smell that toasted nut scent).

 In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, cream (milk), maple syrup, cinnamon, vanilla and salt. Cut the Italian bread into 1/4-inch (2 cm) thick slices; dip into egg mixture until soaked. (I am a light dipper:D)

 In a large skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter (15 mL) over medium heat; cook slices, in batches and adding more butter as needed, until golden, about 3 minutes. Transfer to 2 baking sheets. bake in top and bottom thirds of 350F (180C) oven until puffed and heated through, about 8 minutes. This method works well for making French toast for a larger crowd.

Caramelized Bananas: Meanwhile, in large skillet, melt half of the butter over medium-high heat; fry half of the bananas, turning once, until golden and tender, about 3 minutes. (The time may vary depending on the ripeness of your bananas. You want them to retain their firmness so keep in mind they will be added to the caramel to cook a little longer after this step). Transfer to a plate. Repeat with remaining bananas.

In the same skillet, bring maple syrup, sugar, corn syrup and rum to a boil over medium-high heat; reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes. Stir in bananas; simmer for 1 minute. Spoon over French toast; sprinkle with walnuts.

Serves 8


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  1. Delicious indeed .. but too rich!! I'll keep the French Toast and walnuts, and make another dessert with the bananas!

  2. I can attest that this is DELICIOUS! We have French Toast of some kind most weekends to use up leftover bread and this is one of my Dad's favorites. You make it look wonderful!
    xoxo Pattie

  3. Morning person here! Your version of french toast looks so delicious, rich but very tasty.

  4. I agree that this recipe is very rich!!! I think one piece per person +bananas would be plenty:D

  5. Lipsmackingly good!



  6. OMG how outstanding is this! Wow, I've done this with pancakes but I like this idea more!

  7. What could possibly be bad about this? Yummy, yummy, yummy!

  8. I'm like you, can never sleep in, just as well with two young kids. I realy must make more effort with breakfast - this looks like such a treat.

  9. I'd *have* to sleep in and make this decadent treat a brunch - I'd feel too guilty to justify lunch after a breakfast like this. ; )

  10. Definitely a morning type of gal - mainly because I always wake up starving. French toast was the first thing I learned to cook and as the euro is so strong at the moment, maple syrup looked quite cheap at the supermarket...hmmm....

  11. I love all forms of french toast and especially with maple syrup..such a unique taste. And I love Canadian maple syrup!

  12. Your rendition is fabulous.I am so fond of that magazine~ It's one of our bestests:)

  13. I am SUCH a morning person. I am always the first one up in the morning. I like to have a long leisurely breakfast before class...even if it means getting less sleep! I would be even more excited to wake up if I got to wake up to this, however. It looks amazing!

  14. I'm definitly a night owl, it's 11:45PM and I'm writing this and dreaming I could eat this for breakfast in the morning!

  15. I love the way you prepared your bananas for this. I love French toast. This is one I have to try! Maybe tomorrow if I can get myself out of bed early enough. I used to be a morning person and I still long to be but for some reason I'm having a hard time these days.

    Would love to give Birch syrup a try!

  16. This looks delicious. I love all of it. French toast, check. Maple syrup, check. Bananas, check. And did you know walnuts is considered a superfood? Medicine this is. Double helpings mandatory.

  17. Yum, Val! A breakfast after my own heart :)

  18. i've always enjoyed maple syrup on pancakes, waffles, and french toast (you'd probably gasp if you saw how much i used), and now i'm loving it in other applications too. good stuff, that maple syrup. lovely breakfast here, val!

  19. Mmm, you had me at caramelized bananas.. :)

  20. Lovely looking caramelized bananas - this does look yummy!

  21. I am not showing Graham this post. We always bicker about french toast, he thinks it should be made with sugar and I am equally firm on the fact that it should be made with salt (maybe it is a Scottish thing). I will have to be sneaky and try it when he is out, otherwise I will never hear the end of it. Oh, how I want to try this!

  22. What a fantastic way to start a Sunday morning. I would have ate brekkie and gone back to bed again.

  23. First off..I love your blog, everything looks so amazing and your write ups are fantastic. Secondly..this french toast has rendered speechle..I mean..typeless. What I would give for a plate of that any time of the day!

  24. This looks SO good. I love french toast (who doesn't?) but so rarely make it at home. This looks like one delicious Sunday breakfast!

  25. OMG! This looks brilliant! I love caramelized bananas, very nice indeed.

  26. Oh, my goodness...anyone who knows me knows that this wonderful recipe would be welcomed with open arms in my kitchen! I am most definitely giving this a try.

    Thank you for sharing it.

    Spring is definitely sprung here. Unfortunately in just a short while it will be summer.


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