Raindrops cling to the leafless boughs on the trees outside the window. The fog hangs low enough it’s as if you can almost touch it. The saturated ground sends up the fragrance of earthiness mixed with petrichor and evergreen as soon as I step outside. Tiny remnants of snowy winter cobble the landscape, just barely hanging on.
I bump the mud off of my boots as I walk into my log cabin, putting my yellow tea kettle on the stove and pulling the shades wide open to let the greyish-white light pour in onto the dining room table. I set out the extra block of cream cheese I have on hand from last week’s birthday cake to soften. I wash and hull the leftover strawberries from Easter Sunday’s spinach and balsamic salad. I slice the half loaf of day old Italian bread sitting on the counter and crack cage free eggs into a bowl, whisking them together with vanilla a friend gave me when she returned from a Caribbean cruise. The skillet goes down on the stove just as the kettle begins to whistle, and I pause momentarily to pull out some Earl Grey tea. Butter hits the pan with a sizzle then and the bread gets drenched in custard before touching down on the hot surface with a welcome pop and hiss. The stand mixer works the powdered sugar into the cream cheese along with a quick splash of milk.
The bread is toasted and golden now, filling the cabin with undeniable aroma of French toast. One slice goes down on the plate, promptly smeared with sweetened cream cheese and layered with fresh strawberries, then topped with another steaming hot slice. The cream cheese begins to fall over the edges, the strawberries peeking out. I dust the plate with powdered sugar like a light snowfall and take it to the table where the syrup is waiting and the light is still pouring in, reflecting back at me in pools of maple. The moment is so perfect and that first bite so good that I cannot help but utter something out loud to myself and wish someone was there to share in it all.
Stuffed French Toast with Strawberries
Thick golden slices of French toast filled with sweetened vanilla cream cheese and slices of fresh strawberry.
Yields: 2 servings
- For the filling:
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 3 tablespoons powdered sugar
- 1 tablespoon milk
- For the French toast:
- 4 thick slices Italian or French bread
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 2 teaspoons sugar
- For Serving:
- Butter for the pan
- Maple syrup
- Powdered sugar
- 1/4 cup sliced fresh strawberries
In the bowl of a stand-mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together the cream cheese, powdered sugar, vanilla, and milk until smooth and combined. Scrape the sides of the bowl as needed.
In a bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, and sugar until completely combined. Place a skillet over medium heat. Melt 2 teaspoons of butter in the pan. Submerge a slice of bread into the custard mixture to thoroughly coat. Place the bread into the pan and cook until golden and crisp on each side, about 2-3 minutes per side, being sure to cook through. Repeat with remaining slices of bread, adding more butter to the pan as needed between each slice.
Place one slice of French toast on a serving plate. Spread half of the cream cheese mixture onto the French toast. Layer with half of the strawberries. Press another slice of French toast on top, pressing down slightly, sandwiching the filling in between the slices. Repeat with remaining ingredients. Dust each plate with powdered sugar and serve promptly while hot with maple syrup.