A typical weekend breakfast in our household involves microwaved muffins or string cheese. We’re always busy on the weekends and it seems like from Saturday morning to dinnertime on Sunday, we’re running errands or working in the yard. Taking the time for a sit-down breakfast seems like a small luxury. And when we do have traditional breakfast foods like pancakes or waffles, it’s usually for dinner because I’m in no mood for cooking first thing in the morning.
The wonderful thing about French toast casseroles, though, is that they can be made the night before–and really, they’re so much better when you make them ahead of time too. Although I’ve never made a French toast casserole myself, I thought I’d try one because doing most of the work the night before and simply popping it in the oven in the morning seemed like the happy medium between the string cheese breakfast and homecooked pancakes or waffles. We’d still have something delicious to sit down to, but I wouldn’t have to be flipping pancakes while groggy and cranky.
Of course, a whole French toast casserole is a little too much for two people, so I decided to make Sweet Potato French Toast Cups, using muffin tins–this way, we could easily freeze some of the leftovers for another weekend. The result is kind of a cross between French toast and bread pudding. By taking the time to bake the sweet potatoes, you can take advantage of their natural sweetness and add less sugar than in a typical French toast recipe. I deliberately left out spices in the French toast cups so the flavor of the Vanilla Cardamom Creme Anglaise would shine through–if you decide to make these without the creme anglaise, add some cinnamon, nutmeg, or pumpkin pie spice to the French toast before baking.
Although this Sweet Potato French Toast Cups recipe is meant to be an overnight one, you can simply let the bread and egg mixture sit in the muffin tins for 20-30 minutes before cooking if you're pressed for time.
- 1 small sweet potato, pierced with fork
- Cooking spray or oil mister
- 8 oz. stale bread, cut into 1/2 inch pieces (any kind will do, but I like using a small baguette)
- 3 eggs + 4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
- 1 c. low-fat milk
- 2 1/2 c. half-and-half, divided
- 2 tsp. vanilla, divided
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 1/2 c. granulated sugar
- 1/2 tsp. cardamom
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Place sweet potato on a foil-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 45 minutes or until softened. Cool to room temperature and puree in food processor.
- Spray a muffin tin with cooking spray or oil. Divide bread pieces evenly among all 12 muffin cups.
- Beat 3 whole eggs in a medium bowl. Add milk, 1/2 cup half-and-half, 1 teaspoon vanilla, and brown sugar and whisk until well-combined. Whisk in 1/2 cup of pureed sweet potato (use any remaining potato puree for whatever you like or just eat it as-is--whatever!).
- Pour egg mixture over bread. Cover muffin tins with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
- To make the creme anglaise, heat half-and-half in a large heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-low heat. Cook until just simmering, about 5 minutes.
- In a medium bowl, whisk together sugar and egg yolks. Slowly add half of half-and-half mixture to the egg yolk mixture, whisking constantly. Pour half-and-half and egg mixture back into saucepan and raise heat to medium. Stir constantly with a wooden spoon until sauce has thickened and coats back of spoon, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat immediately and stir in vanilla extract and cardamom; pour through strainer into a heat-proof bowl. Cover and refrigerate overnight.
- In the morning, preheat oven to 325 degrees. Remove plastic wrap from muffin tins and use a spoon to push bread down into the egg mixture before placing in oven. Bake for 35 minutes or until edges are golden but not brown. Loosen French toast cups by running a butterknife along the edges before popping them out. Serve with chilled creme anglaise.
Prep time does not include time spent overnight in fridge.