My husband loves French toast. So much - that he usually orders two breakfast entrees at brunch. Whatever is on the menu that he's interested in and a French toast for dessert. So when I had some leftover ricotta, I just knew I had to try my hand at stuffing one at home.
I was surprised at how easy the recipe came together, even with the added element of making a homemade strawberry compote topping. The first time I made this, I put all the stuffed toasts into a panini press which cut cooking time in half and also provided a satisfying crunch to the bread. The second time around, I cooked these guys up on a skillet which gave them the more traditional soft texture you would expect of French toast. Both came out good, so it comes down to preference (and owning a panini press!).
Lets talk about the topping for a minute. You could top this recipe with maple syrup and call it a day, or even use a jarred jam of your liking. All good options! But homemade compote is so easy - why wouldn't you! I got mine started before anything else so I could reduce down the fruit on very low heat; it was ready by the time the French toasts were done. Because the fruit lets off a lot of water, I added a teaspoon of chia seeds after 5 minutes to help thicken up the whole thing. The first time I made it, I simply boiled out some of the water for a minute to reduce into a more syrupy like consistency. Either option is fine and worked well with this dish but I personally like the added textural element that the chia seeds provide.
This recipe is an easy way to jazz up a classic French toast.
- 1 1/2 cups strawberries, roughly chopped
- 2 tablespoons lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup, or more to taste
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon chia seeds (optional)
Honey Lemon Ricotta Filling
- 3/4 cup ricotta (full fat preferred!)
- 2 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 tablespoon lemon zest
- juice from half a lemon
- 8 slices of loaf bread
- 1/2 cup milk
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 eggs
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup
1. Strawberry Compote: Combine chopped strawberries, lemon juice, maple syrup, and vanilla in a small saucepan. Set on low to medium low heat, stirring occasionally. Once the strawberries begin to breakdown and become soft, about 10 minutes, gently press the fruit with the back of your spoon or spatula to create the compote texture. You'll notice the fruit begins to release its own liquid and become a bit watery. At this time, you can choose to stir in the chia seeds which will thicken up the whole mixture. If you do not have or choose not to use chia seeds, you can turn up the heat to medium high heat and allow the compote to simmer until it reduces, evaporating out some of the moisture.
2. Lemon Ricotta Filling: In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients for the filling until well incorporated. It is easiest to zest a lemon prior to juicing it. The mixture will become a bit too runny. You can add the mixing bowl directly to the freezer to help firm it up. About 5 minutes should do the trick.
3. French Toast: Whisk together the milk, vanilla, cinnamon, eggs, and maple syrup and place in a shallow plate. Set aside.
4. Assembly: Remove ricotta mixture from the freezer and give it a stir. Place about a quarter of the mixture on four of the slices of bread. Top each with another slice of bread, forming a sandwich. Dip each sandwich into the milky egg mixture and allow to soak into the bread for a few seconds before flipping over to the other side. Repeat until all sandwiches have been soaked.
5. Panini press method: Spray panini press with non stick cooking spray or slather with melted butter. Place soaked and filled French toasts onto panini press surface and lower the lid. Do not tighten as you would with a press sandwich, or you will lose the ricotta filling. Allow 7-8 minutes to cook.
6. Skillet method: Heat a cast iron or non stick pan over medium heat and spray with cooking spray or slather with melted butter. Once pan surface is hot, place soaked and filled French toasts onto pan and allow to cook about 5 minutes before flipping to the other side for another 5 minutes.
7. Plating: Allow the toasts to cool slightly before cutting each one in half, diagonally, to form two triangles. Partially overlap one triangle on top of the other in the center of a plate. Place a few tablespoons of compote across the top. If you like extra sweetness, you can drizzle more maple syrup across the top, although I have found there is enough sweetness in the recipe and haven't needed to add more. For an optional added plating element, place powdered sugar in a fine mesh sieve and dust the whole dish with the sugar.