This is brunch done right-- simple, indulgent, and ever so slightly fancy.
If I'm being honest, I usually dislike French Toast casseroles and bread puddings. They just seem a bit soggy and bland. Why would I eat mushy bread for breakfast on the weekend when I can have pretty much any other carb known to man and enjoy it infinitely more?
But this one has changed my mind. I think because it's not as moist as most, and when you stack the whole bread slices in the dish rather than cutting them into cubes, the top gets nice and crusty. Not to mention the crunchy sugar on top. Can we talk about that for a minute?
That sugar is THE best part of this entire scenario, with it's bright orange-y-ness contrasting with the bittersweet chocolate. On top of the crusty upper edge of the bread. On top of the chocolatey, custardy bread middle. GAH.
But waitwaitwait. Before we actually stop, let's talk about bread. I used the BEST sourdough bread for this, because my husband had a connecting flight through SFO and brought me some. That man speaks my love language. The sourdough gives a nice tang and has a great crust, but you could also use a high quality challah or French bread. Just make sure it's not sandwich bread, because that won't work. Just...don't. Trust me here.
Also, this gets bonus points for being a make ahead breakfast. Let it soak overnight, then bake it when you get up. The oven can preheat while you brush your teeth, and it bakes while you shower. You get an amazing breakfast and a head start on all that weekend relaxing you had planned. Could life get any better? I think not.
- 6-7 slices high-quality bread
- 5 Tbsp. butter
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1/4 cup orange juice
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1/2 cup coarse sugar (turbinado, sugar in the raw, zulka, etc.)
- Zest of one large orange, about 1 Tbsp.
- 3 oz. high quality chocolate bar (60% or higher)