After living here for 3 short years, I’m only just beginning to develop the self-discipline to even consider doing anything with a mango except just eat it. Why cover up that succulent flavor with spices, or herbs, or anything!? In the last few months, beginning with the Double Mango Bread that was conceived for my first foray in the world of blog events, I’ve experimented with fresh mangoes with meat dishes, oatmeal, salsas, etc., but to be honest, I’d rather enjoy the mango au naturel — naked, if you will.
But last weekend I did venture to make a stuffed french toast with fresh mangoes. It was deemed a worthy use of this most noble fruit. I love egg-y french toast, or pain perdu (if we’re being picky about it). I prefer to leave the bread to soak overnight in a copious egg-mik sop, heavy with vanilla and a bit of cinnamon. But with the mangoes, I wanted something lighter, something less bread-pudding-ish, that would showcase the fruit itself.
The trick to this preparation is to leave the interior of the bread slices dry so the result is a creamy yet light toast that allows the fresh fruit to star. A crumb topping provides a contrasting crunch. We loved this lighter french toast — it tasted sinful without leaving us feeling weighed down afterwards. Make this with any seasonal fruit. I don’t really like cinnamon with mango, so I didn’t use it or any other flavoring except a kiss of vanilla. With other fruits, though, I would think of complementary flavor combinations: almond extract and nuts with peaches, cherries and other stone fruits; stronger vanilla or even banana with strawberries; cinnamon and cloves with apples or bananas; lemon with blueberries; etc.
This recipe is made with whole grain wheat bread because we are trying to eat more healthily (and that’s what we had on hand that morning). (Made with whole wheat, this is something I would serve my dad on his gout-maintenance diet, so it will go into the GDC.) No question you could substitute an egg bread, such as Hawaiian sweet or challah, for a truly decadent feast.
MANGO-STUFFED WHOLE-WHEAT FRENCH TOAST
(for 2 persons, double or triple recipe as needed)
Fruit from 1-3 fully ripe mango (if using a meaty Hayden, you may only need one if you can refrain from sneaking too many nibbles as you prepare the fruit; from the smaller Champagne (Ataulfo) or Pirie varieties, you may need as many as 3)
You can mash or dice the mango, especially if it shows any signs of being stringy. I left it in slices because this particular mango cut like butter anyway, and we like the texture of the fruit this way.
Pre-heat oven to 400F (200C). A countertop or large toaster oven is perfect for a 2-person serving.
2 large or 3 medium eggs
1/2 cup (120ml) almond milk (or soy or low-fat milk)
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1 tsp. raw sugar
4 slices of whole wheat bread
Beat together eggs, milk, vanilla and sugar. Dip each side of bread in this mixture, then leave bread to soak up remaining milk while you prepare the topping.
1 slice of bread
1/4 cup (40g) macadamia nuts, chopped
2 TBL. raw sugar
Process bread, nuts and sugar in small bowl of food processor or blender.
2 TBL. (30g) unsalted butter, melted
2 tsp. raw sugar, or to taste
Butter a small baking dish. Lay 2 slices of soaked bread on the bottom. Top with mango slices (dice, or puree). Sprinkle fruit with 1 tsp. of raw sugar. Top with second slice of bread. Liberally sprinkle bread-nut topping, then drizzle with melted butter.
Bake in pre-heated oven for 5 minutes, then turn oven down to 325F (for another 25 minutes). If top starts to brown to quickly, cover with foil to protect crust.
Serve while hot, with whipped cream or creme fraiche.