Saturday, August 18, 2018

Up Your Brunch Game! Salted Caramel-Bacon French Toast Bake with Coffee-mate® Artisan Cafe Creamer

If you're like me, there's always a few bottles of fun flavored coffee creamers in your fridge. I typically use them to make yummy iced coffee creations at home that are a fraction of the cost of big-name coffee shops. But...did you know that these versatile creamers can also be used to flavor more than coffee? It's true! I recently partnered with Coffee-mate® to create a weekend brunch dish featuring their delicious Artisan Café Himalayan Salted Caramel creamer! Coffee-mate®'s Artisan Café line is super creamy, because it contains cream, milk, and buttermilk. I especially love dishes with a salty-sweet flavor component, so I created my Salted Caramel-Bacon French Toast Bake to showcase both flavors. This recipe features Artisan Café Himalayan Salted Caramel creamer in the custard that's poured over the bread cubes...AND in the creamy sauce I created to pour over each serving. 

The addition of savory crumbled bacon pairs perfectly with the salted caramel. To up the ante even more, the bread cubes for the French toast are made from two slices of Hawaiian bread with a thin layer of cookie butter spread between. This decadent French toast bake is a very special brunch for relaxing weekends, because it feeds up to six hungry people. It can even be assembled the night before and refrigerated. The next morning, simply pop the baking dish in the oven and start a pot of coffee going. 

I made this dish for our Sunday breakfast while visiting my parents last weekend, and everyone raved about how delicious it was. With the holiday season creeping up on the horizon, this will be a perfect recipe to have on hand!

Salted Caramel-Bacon French Toast Bake
a Weekend Gourmet Original
Ingredients (six servings):
  • 10 slices Hawaiian bread
  • 5 tbs. cookie butter
  • 4 slices cooked bacon, crumbled
  • 6 large eggs, room temperature
  • 1 tbs. softened butter
  • 1 cup Coffee-mate® Artisan Café Himalayan Sea Salt Creamer
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1 tbs. vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp. cinnamon
For the sauce:
  • 3/4 cup Coffee-mate® Artisan Café Himalayan Sea Salt creamer
  • 1/2 cup pure maple syrup
  • 1/3 cup room temperature honey-pecan cream cheese
Step 1: If assembling this bake the morning you plan to serve it, preheat oven to 350. Use the butter to generously coat the top and sides of a 10x7 casserole dish. Spread 1 tbs. of cookie butter on five slices of Hawaiian bread. Top with the remaining five slices to make sandwiches. Cut each sandwich into bite-size cubes. Evenly arrange the cubes in the buttered baking dish.
Step 2: Sprinkle the crumbled bacon on top of the bread cubes in the baking dish. Make the custard by adding the eggs, Coffee-mate® Artisan Café Himalayan Sea Salt creamer, milk, vanilla, and cinnamon to a large measuring cup. Whisk until the custard ingredients are evenly combined. Pour the custard evenly over the bread cubes and bacon -- press the bread cubes into the custard to make sure they are completely saturated. Let sit at least 15 minutes to allow the bread cubes to soak up the custard.
NOTE: If you're assembling the French toast bake the night before serving it, this is the point where you will cover the baking dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 

Step 3: Make the topping for the bake. Add the maple syrup, Coffee-mate® Artisan Café Himalayan Sea Salt creamer, and softened cream cheese to a bowl. Whisk well, until the cream cheese is completely incorporated and a creamy sauce forms -- make sure there are no lumps! Pour the sauce into a serving container and set aside until the bake is ready to serve.

Step 4: Cook the French toast bake for 15-20 minutes, until the bread cubes are starting to turn golden brown and slightly toasted at the edge of the baking dish. To serve, cut into squares and pour some of the reserved sauce on top.
I freely admit that this Salted Caramel-Bacon French Toast Bake is a bit over the top -- but everyone needs a little splurge now and then. This dish is a special indulgence that's definitely worth every single calorie! The French toast is very moist, and the Coffee-mate® Artisan Café Himalayan Sea Salt creamer works perfectly with the sweet cookie butter and the salty bacon. About that sauce? It's creamy and sweet, and it's the perfect accompaniment to this French toast bake. If you love bread pudding, this is definitely a recipe you must try. This breakfast bake is especially nice served with a cup of coffee flavored with a bit more of the Coffee-mate® Artisan Café Himalayan Sea Salt creamer. 

Disclosure: Coffeemate provided me with samples of their creamers to facilitate recipe development for this feature. All opinions shared are solely my own.

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