I am Italian by marriage, which may explain my love for cooking traditional dishes of that country, and inventing a few of my own.
This holiday recipe, which has become a staple on our family table for New Year’s Day breakfast, is one of those creations: a heavenly blend of classic Italian Panettone bread, soaked overnight in a mixture of eggs, rich eggnog, and vanilla, then baked to crusty, puffed perfection in the morning. Served warm with a generous drizzle of real maple syrup (none of that faux stuff here, please), and you have a dish that will dazzle guests and become a family favorite.
For those unfamiliar with this treat, Panettone is a holiday Italian sweet bread which originated in Milan. It is traditionally cylindrical in shape, infused with candied orange, citron, lemon zest, and raisins—making it the perfect base for a memorable french toast. It generally comes boxed and is available at Trader Joes as well as many specialty stores and bakeries during the holiday season.
When it comes to the eggnog for this recipe, choose none other than the Cadillac of concoctions: Strauss Family Creamery Organic Eggnog, available in their signature one quart glass bottles. You can definitely taste the difference in their creamy blend of fresh organic milk and spice. Locally, look for this seasonal drink in the dairy aisle at Paradise Foods, Whole Foods Markets, Andronico’s, United Market, and Oliver’s. Check their website at www.straussfamilycreamery.com for more locations near you.
A word of warning: this recipe does not skimp on calories, but it’s absolutely worthy of a holiday splurge. From my home to yours, may your New Year be filled with good health, abundance, and joy. Mangia!
Baked Panettone-Eggnog French Toast
1 loaf Italian Panettone bread
6 large eggs, beaten
1 ¾ cup Strauss Family Creamery Eggnog
1 cup non-fat milk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon nutmeg
Butter a ceramic or glass 9X13 inch casserole dish. Cut ¾ of Panettone loaf into thick slices, then cube. Fill dish with cubed bread. In a separate bowl, combine beaten eggs, eggnog, milk, vanilla, and spices, mixing well. Pour evenly over the bread cubes, saturating the bread. Cover and refrigerate at least 12 hours or overnight.
In the morning, preheat oven to 350. Remove cover from casserole and bake on center rack for 40-45 minutes, or until puffed and golden. Serve with maple syrup.