Make a holiday-season breakfast extra special with this stuffed French toast recipe featuring oranges and fresh pecans, which are abundant this time of year.
The whole family can participate in the preparation the night before, from beating eggs to spooning the cream cheese mixture into pockets in the French bread.
When you wake up in the morning, just pop the dish in the oven, heat up the simple and mouthwatering orange-pecan maple syrup topping, and enjoy leisurely family time around the table.
Easy Overnight Stuffed French Toast
1 8-ounce package low-fat or regular cream cheese, softened
3/4 cup chopped pecans
1/3 cup sugar
3 tablespoons orange zest from a fresh orange
1 large loaf French bread (day-old bread with a softer crust works best)
6 eggs, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Maple syrup for Pecan Maple Syrup
To assemble: Blend the cream cheese, 1/2 cup of the pecans, sugar and 2 tablespoons orange zest in a medium bowl. An adult or older child should cut the loaf into about 10 to 12 1-inch slices. Then cut an opening in one crust side of each slice, two-thirds the way down, to form a pocket. Tuck a spoonful of the cream cheese mixture into each pocket and press to close. Arrange in two rows in a 9-inch-by-13-inch greased baking pan. Combine the beaten eggs, milk and vanilla in a medium bowl. Pour over the bread, making sure it is soaked with egg mixture. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate overnight.
To bake and serve: In the morning, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Remove foil and bake for 45 minutes until lightly golden. Serve warm Pecan Maple Syrup drizzled over individual servings.
To make Pecan Maple Syrup: Over low heat, warm the desired amount of maple syrup with the remaining chopped pecans and orange zest.