Caramel Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast, because 'tis the season

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Hi fellow turkey fiends! The closer we get to Thanksgiving, the more I just want to lay on the couch and eat carbs. A warmup for the big day, if you will.

I’m not sure if it was wise or really dumb to attempt to run my first half marathon the weekend before Thanksgiving, but that’s what I’ll be doing this Sunday. I’m trying to be good, but every once in a while a dish like this Caramel Pumpkin Stuffed French Toast will slip out.

I made it recently for me and my husband’s two-year wedding anniversary (hi, P!), and it was so good (almost too good?) I had to make it again and take some photos and share it with you.

My proudest moment: Finding bacon in the fridge and crisping it up then dousing it with maple syrup to create a sweet-salty garnish. My not-so-proud moment: Trying and failing three (3!) times to make caramel sauce with brown sugar. Does something about the brownness of brown sugar (added molasses?) prevent caramelization? Did I need to add some water to the mixture? I resorted to regular ol’ granulated sugar, then added some canned pumpkin for extra fall vibes.

This would be a decadent breakfast around the holidays, especially the day after Thanksgiving when everyone’s stomachs have cleared a bit but you’re not ready to stop with the barrage of sinful foods.

If you want to make the bread for the French toast from scratch like I did (sorry I just can’t justify buying bread when it’s so easy to make at home), here’s the recipe I used. A loaf of nice bread would also be a perfectly reasonable thing to tell your guests to bring!

Pumpkin Caramel Stuffed French Toast

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For the candied bacon: 

4 slices bacon

2 tablespoons maple syrup

Pinch salt

For the Pumpkin Caramel Sauce:

1 cup granulated sugar

6 tablespoons butter, room temperature, cut into small cubes 

½ cup heavy cream

⅓ cup pumpkin puree

1 large banana, peeled 

For the French toast: 

4 eggs

½ cup 2 percent milk

1 teaspoon vanilla 

1 teaspoon cinnamon

Pinch salt 

6 pieces bread, like challah or cinnamon raisin, store-bought or homemade, thickly sliced  

Butter, as needed

Make the candied bacon: Cook bacon in a large skillet until browned and quite crispy. Remove from heat when done and crumble or chop into small pieces. Add to a small bowl and drizzle with maple syrup and a pinch of salt. Toss. Set aside. Wipe skillet used to cook bacon and leave out for later use. 

Make the Pumpkin Caramel Sauce: Add sugar to a medium saucepan set over high heat. Cook, stirring often, for several minutes until sugar starts to clump. Cook further until it turns a golden brown and begins to melt. Keep stirring to prevent it from sticking to pan. 

When sugar is totally melted, add butter and stir. Mixture may bubble, so be careful. Turn off heat, stir in heavy cream and mix until it’s completely combined. Stir in pumpkin until you have a smooth but thick sauce. Keep warm on the stove. (At this point, you could refrigerate sauce for a couple of days and heat before serving.)

Roughly chop banana, then add to skillet used to cook bacon. Add a dollop of caramel sauce and cook over medium heat until banana is very soft and spreadable. Set aside. 

Make the French toast: Whisk eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon and salt together in a shallow dish. Add three pieces of bread at a time to dish and let soak on each side for at least 1 minute. 

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Melt about 1 tablespoon butter in skillet, then add bread to skillet. Make sure the pan and the butter are nice and hot before adding bread. 

Cook on each side for 4 to 5 minutes, until bread is golden brown. Remove to a plate. Repeat process with other 3 slices of bread. 

Place 1 slice of bread on serving plate, then spread half the banana mixture on top. Top with two other pieces of bread, then top generously with Pumpkin Caramel Sauce and some of the candied bacon. Serve immediately.

Serves 2.

Source: Michelle Stark, Tampa Bay Times