Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Holiday Cooking with BAILEYS Seasonal Coffee Creamers...Featuring Pumpkin Pie French Toast Casserole

Thanksgiving is coming up next week, and I’ve got a fabulous make-ahead breakfast casserole featuring pumpkin that you can assemble the night before. Then simply pop the dish into the oven in the morning to make sure your family has a warm, comforting breakfast ahead of the traditional Thanksgiving feast. You’ll appreciate the fact that this breakfast is totally stress-free and basically hands-off. Since you assemble my Pumpkin Pie French Toast Casserole the night before, the oven does all the work for you on Thanksgiving morning! To make sure that you get to maximize your pumpkin quotient, I added pumpkin puree to both the creamy cheesecake-like filling…and the sweet custard. My secret ingredient for ensuring that the finished breakfast casserole is perfectly sweetened and moist, you ask? BAILEYS Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer is the base of this recipe’s rich and flavorful custard!
I don’t drink a cup of coffee every day, but I love to use non-alcoholic BAILEYS Coffee Creamers to add sweetness and a touch of seasonal flavor to my hot chocolate, as well as an ingredient in baked goods. If you’ve never used flavored coffee creamers as a cooking ingredient, I’m about to change your life...starting with my comforting pumpkin-infused breakfast casserole! You can use honey or brown-sugar flavored spreadable cream cheese between the bread layers for this decadent casserole, but I used a new product I recently discovered: Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spread. The texture and flavor is similar to cream cheese, but it contains healthy probiotic cultures. I used the Honey flavor for this recipe. If you make this Pumpkin Pie French Toast Casserole for Thanksgiving breakfast, your family will definitely be thankful when they awaken to the smell of it baking away in your kitchen!

Pumpkin Pie French Toast Casserole
 a Weekend Gourmet Original
Ingredients (for 6-9 servings):
  •  slices sweet Hawaiian bread
  • 1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)
  • 1 tsp. softened butter
For the custard:
  • 1 1/3 cups BAILEYS Pumpkin Spice Coffee Creamer
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
For the cream filling:
  • 1 cup Blue Isle Honey Mediterranean Yogurt Spread OR 1 cup spreadable honey or brown-sugar cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin puree
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
Step 1: Butter a 9x9 baking dish. Cut three slices of the Hawaiian bread into bite-sized cubes. Layer them evenly across the bottom of the buttered baking dish. Top with half of the creamy filling. Repeat with a layer of bread cubes made from three slices of bread and the remainder of the filling. For the top layer, cube the last two slices of Hawaiian bread and scatter on top of the filling – you want a bit of the filling to show through the top layer of bread cubes.
Step 2: Add the custard ingredients to a large measuring cup or a mixing bowl. Whisk well until the ingredients are completely combined. Carefully pour the custard evenly over the bread cubes so all can be saturated – it’s ok to push down lightly if necessary. Sprinkle the chopped pecans on top of the casserole, if using. Cover the dish with foil and refrigerate overnight (or at least 3-4 hours).
Step 3: When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375. Uncover the pan and place on a rimmed baking sheet. Bake until the casserole is cooked through and is crusty and golden-brown on top. To serve, cut into squares -- or simply scoop it out -- and serve in individual bowls. We found the casserole was plenty sweet without syrup, but feel free to serve warm maple syrup on the side for those who want to drizzle a bit on top. Bacon or sausage would make the perfect partner for this decadent casserole.
This is truly the easiest way ever to make French toast – less than 30 minutes of prep time the night before yields a flavorful breakfast that pumpkin lovers will go crazy for! The BAILEYS Coffee Creamer was the perfect base for my custard – it’s pre-sweetened and ultra rich. That means the end result is a French toast casserole that is crunchy outside…and richly moist on the inside. Although I created it as a breakfast dish, everyone who tasted it agreed it could easily double as a bread pudding dessert on your Thanksgiving table as well – simply make a batch of whiskey sauce to pour on top, and you’re in business!

Disclosure: I received samples of BAILEYS Seasonal Coffee Creamers and Blue Isle Mediterranean Yogurt Spreads for recipe development. All opinions expressed are solely my own.

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