I’m just going to say it for everybody. “Casserole” doesn’t sound appetizing. The word just has a bad connotation attached to it in the food world. You can blame things like Tuna casserole and other crazy concussions for that. However, I’m here to break that stigma. There are plenty of delicious casserole dishes out there. Lasanaga, baked ziti, and baked macaroni and cheese are great examples of amazing “casserole” dishes. Well, let me introduce one more to add to that list…French Toast Casserole. Yes, you read that right. French Toast Casserole. I love this dish so much! There’s no need to soak the bread overnight. There’s no need to stand over an oven and slave away flipping the bread at precisely the right moment. Nope, this dish allows you to put everything in one casserole dish, bake it off and you can enjoy the fruits of your labor. This version of french toast casserole is called “berries and cream french toast casserole.” For good reason too. We have berries and cream cheese in the casserole. Then, we top it off with more berries and some whipped cream. Once you take a bite of your warm french toast, you’ll think you died and went to heaven. It will take you to another dimension. I’m tellin’ you.
We all know the French invented cooking and pastries. They are the pioneers that we should all bow down to for giving us so many delectable dishes. One of the many creations the French gave us is called crème anglaise.
The name may make it sound fancy, but all it really is a custard like cream sauce. It’s not hard to make, but it is worth the effort. What you’ll get is a rich cream sauce that tasted like vanilla ice cream. It’s so good and complements so many desserts. I used it in my trifle, but you can use it along side any dessert really. This recipe will give you a thicker crème anglaise than you may be used to seeing. It tasted just as delicious though. I took it to a thicker stage by continuing to cook it, but if you wanted it thinner, you would just take it off the heat quicker. Anyways, let’s get this party started.
Start by combining the cream, about 1/4 cup or 50 grams of milk, and 68 grams of sugar in a medium saucepan.
If you’re using the vanilla bean cut in half, place it in the saucepan at this point. Place over medium heat and stir for 10 seconds. Meanwhile, combine the egg yolks and the remaining 68 grams of sugar in a medium mixing bowl and whisk immediately for 30 seconds.
Add 50 grams of milk to the egg yolk mixture.
When the milk comes to a boil in the saucepan, turn off the heat. Remove the vanilla pod. If you didn’t use a pod, at this point pour in the vanilla extract and stir. Stir constantly with a whisk pour about 2 cups of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture.
Pour this egg yolk mixture into the hot milk in the sauce pan and place over low heat. Use a rubber spatula to stir constantly until it begins to thicken.
The temperature should reach between 165°F – 185°F and the sauce should stay put if you run your finger down the middle of a spatula.
Strain the mixture into a mixing bowl over an ice bath. Stir for a few minutes until it’s cooled and then let it cool down for 20 minutes.
Once cool, transfer to a container, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until it’s ready to use. Custard will keep for up to 48 hours in the fridge.
See how I do it:
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon whole milk
- 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon heavy cream
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
- 1 1/2 vanilla beans or 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
- 8-9 egg yolks
- 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
Set aside 1/4 cup of milk and place the rest of the milk, all of the cream and 1 1/3 cup of sugar into the medium saucepan. Place the vanilla bean in the saucepan if you're using that.
Place over medium heat and stir for 10 seconds to make sure that the sugar doesn't stick to bottom.
Meanwhile, combine the yolks and the other 1 1/3 cup of granulated sugar in a medium bowl and whisk for 30 seconds. Add 50 grams of milk to the egg yolk mixture and whisk in.
When the milk cream mixture comes to a boil, turn off the heat and remove the vanilla pods and at this point add in the vanilla extract if that's what you're using.
Stir constantly with the whisk, pour about 2 cups of the hot milk into the egg yolk mixture. Whisk the egg yolk mixture back into the hot milk in the saucepan.
Place the saucepan back on low heat and use a rubber spatula, stir constantly until you feel the mixture starting to thicken.
Cook, stirring constantly until it reaches 165°F -185°F. Strain this mixture into a bowl placed over an ice bath. Stir for a few minutes, then cool for 20 minutes.
Once cool, transfer to a container, cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate until ready to use.
Lasts for about 2 days in the fridge. Sauce should be thick and creamy, not runny or grainy.
Lemon, vanilla and berries. You can’t really do any wrong with these flavor combinations. The Italians get that. Many of their desserts are small-form, light and not too sweet. And many of their desserts involve these great flavor combinations. They really have nailed the formula for guilt-free desserts. One of the many Italian sweets that is well-known to everybody is panna cotta. In case you have to brush up on your Italian, panna cotta translates to “cooked cream.” And guess what, that’s exactly what panna cotta is. It’s just cooked cream, milk and some other goodies. Very simple and very delicious. Now, one of the key ingredients in panna cotta is gelatin. You need the gelatin to help set the cream. Many of you may not be able to use gelatin, due to it not being available or maybe religious/moral reasons. Well, luckily for you, there are other options. They do sell halal beef powdered gelatin for all the Muslims out there. You can also use agar agar. This is a natural vegetable counterpart. It will help firm up and set the panna cotta, but you don’t have to worry about it coming from an animal. As you see, there are many options when it comes to gelatin and gelatin substitutes. So, don’t let that stop you from making this very easy and tasty dessert. Great for a rewarding sweet for yourself or for entertaining guests.
We’ll need granulated sugar and gelatin.
Lemon and vanilla.
Lastly, heavy cream.
Start by sprinkling the gelatin over the top of the cold milk. Make sure all the gelatin is coated in milk and let it sit and bloom for about five minutes.
Next, combine the sugar, heavy cream and vanilla in a sauce pan that has a thick bottom.
Scald mixture. Don’t boil! Whisk until combined. Take it off the heat and add in the bloomed gelatin and whisk until dissolved. Also, add in the lemon juice and whisk to combine.
Pour into containers and let it come to room temperature for about 15 minutes. Wrap in saran and refrigerate and chill for four hours to overnight.
After they’re set, unmold by placing the container in a bowl of very hot water for a minute or two. Go around the sides with an off-set spatula and use a blow torch if needed. Give it a shake or two on the plate and that should help unmold it as well.
Serve with some berries and sauce and enjoy!
See how I do it:
- 1 1/2 C heavy cream
- 2.5 oz granulated sugar
- 1/2 t vanilla extract or paste
- 7.5 grams gelatin or agar agar
- 1/2 c milk
- 2.5 oz lemon juice
Bloom the gelatin in the cold milk.
In a thick bottom pot, scald the cream, sugar and vanilla. Don't boil!
Remove from heat and stir in the bloomed gelatin.
Stir in lemon juice.
Pour into molds or containers and let it cool for about 15 minutes.
Refrigerate and chill until set. Anywhere from four hours to overnight.