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JeanMarie Brownson: Eggnog French toast is the perfect meal for holiday guests

JeanMarie Brownson, Tribune Content Agency on

Eggnog so defines Christmas for our family that we have a set of glasses designated only for our annual toast. Topped with freshly grated nutmeg, the combination of iconic flavors embraces the history of all holidays, past, present and future.

After the requisite salute, we work eggnog into sweet breads, cookies and alcoholic beverages. Perhaps our favorite way to use the creamy beverage is in a batch of French toast. Topped with bright red lingonberries or warm whole berry cranberry sauce, this is a brunch dish suitable for Christmas morning or a New Year’s Day party.

Look for eggnog that comes from a local dairy if possible. Otherwise, read labels and choose a brand that uses less artificial ingredients and favors less sugars, real vanilla, etc. Since this is holiday fare, I opt for full-fat versions rather than gum-thickened light varieties.

Choose your own French toast adventure

An overnight French toast casserole means less work the day of the meal as everything can be assembled in advance. The final dish has a crispy golden top and pudding-like interior from the liquid-absorbed bread. A powdered sugar garnish and a side of special jam or fresh fruits make this an ideal serve-yourself item.

French toast cooked on a stovetop on a buttery griddle requires less egg mixture and more of the cook’s attention. The result is individual slices of golden, egg-soaked toast that welcomes syrupy toppings.

Eggnog French Toast Casserole with Lingonberries

Makes 6 to 8 servings

5 tablespoons butter, softened

1 loaf (15 to 18 ounces) challah bread (with or without raisins) or raisin bread

8 large eggs

2 cups best-quality eggnog

1 cup half-and-half, heavy whipping cream or whole milk or more eggnog

2 tablespoons golden rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, optional

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/4 teaspoon salt

Lingonberries or whole berry cranberry sauce

Pure maple syrup

Confectioners’ sugar, for garnish

1. Use 3 tablespoons of the butter to coat the bottom and sides of a 13-by-9-inch baking pan. Slice the bread into 1/2-inch thick slices. Arrange the slices, overlapping them slightly, to completely fill the pan.

2. Whisk the eggs together in a large bowl. Whisk in the eggnog, half-and-half, rum, vanilla, nutmeg and salt. Slowly pour the mixture over the bread in the pan, being sure to moisten each slice. Cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a couple of hours or overnight.

3. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove plastic from the pan. Bake until bread is beautifully golden and starting to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 45 minutes.

4. Meanwhile, heat lingonberries in a small microwave-safe dish on medium heat (50% power) until warm. Warm the syrup if it is cold.


5. Sprinkle the French toast with confectioners’ sugar. Use a metal spatula to cut the French toast into large squares. Serve with a spoonful of the warmed lingonberries. Add syrup if desired.

Classic French Toast with Eggnog

Makes 4 to 6 servings

1 loaf (15 to 18 ounces) challah bread or raisin bread

4 large eggs

1 cup eggnog

1/2 cup half-and-half or whole milk or more eggnog

1 tablespoon golden rum or 1/2 teaspoon rum extract, optional

1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/4 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon salt

Vegetable oil for cooking

Butter, softened

Confectioners’ sugar for garnish

Lingonberries or whole berry cranberry sauce

Pure maple syrup

1. Slice bread 1/2-inch thick. Let stand in a single layer on the work surface for at least 20 minutes or up to several hours to dry it out a bit.

2. Whisk eggs together in a large shallow bowl. Whisk in eggnog, half-and-half, rum, vanilla, nutmeg and salt.

3. Heat a large nonstick griddle or skillet over medium heat until a drop of water sizzles furiously on contact. Add a film of vegetable oil and a few bits of butter to the griddle. Add a slice of bread to the egg mixture and turn with tongs to coat it thoroughly with egg, let excess egg drip back into the bowl. Add the bread to the hot griddle. Adjust heat to cook bread until nicely golden, about 3 minutes. Flip bread carefully and cook to brown the other side, 2 to 3 minutes more. Add more soaked bread slices as the griddle accommodates.

4. Transfer cooked French toast to warm serving plates. Serve right away with confectioners’ sugar, berries and syrup.

(JeanMarie Brownson is a James Beard Award-winning author and the recipient of the IACP Cookbook Award for her latest cookbook, “Dinner at Home.” JeanMarie, a chef and authority on home cooking, Mexican cooking and specialty food, is one of the founding partners of Frontera Foods. She co-authored three cookbooks with chef Rick Bayless, including “Mexico: One Plate at a Time.” JeanMarie has enjoyed developing recipes and writing about food, travel and dining for more than four decades.)

©2022 JeanMarie Brownson. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.




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