Disclosure: I was asked to participate in the #JuiceCentral campaign as a member of the Healthy Aperture Blogger Network. I was compensated for my time.
This recipe for ricotta stuffed French toast with grape syrup, made from 100% fruit juice, is perfect for a special brunch...or a Tuesday!
I think I know what you'll be making Christmas morning...or, you know, tomorrow.
Normally, I'm not a big sweets for breakfast kind of person. I gravitate towards anything that involves eggs and won't leave me with a tummy ache before 8 am. However, I make exceptions for French toast. It's got just the right amount of sweetness for the morning without getting into dessert/sugar crash before 10 AM territory. That is, as long as my French toast isn't swimming in a pool of maple syrup.
Now this version, made with buttery brioche bread and a creamy ricotta cheese center....pure heaven. The ricotta cheese not only adds points for deliciousness, but also a little bit of protein and fat to make it more filling. Drizzled with an easy homemade grape syrup, it's the perfect recipe to break out when you want to start your day with something a little special.
The secret star of this French toast show is the grape syrup. It's made by simmering 100% grape juice with a little bit of cornstarch until it thickens to a syrupy consistency. If you are the type that likes your French toast to take a little syrup bath, but doesn't enjoy a sugar hangover before lunch, I think you're going to love this fruit juice syrup recipe. Because it's thickened with cornstarch, it's much lower in sugar than pancake syrup. With it's fresh, tart flavor, you won't miss the saccharine sweetness of regular syrup.
I love to use juice in my cooking because it adds just the right amount of sweetness without too much sugar, plus a nice little dose of vitamins and minerals. Since 100% fruit juice is made simply by squeezing fresh, ripe fruit with nothing else added, it contains all the same nutrients as fresh fruit - potassium, folate, vitamin C, magnesium and antioxidants to name a few - and no added sugar.
Here's some of my favorite ways to cook with juice, from savory to sweet:
- Mix orange and grapefruit juice with olive oil, vinegar, a minced shallot and season with salt and pepper for a tart citrus dressing.
- Roast carrots with ginger and orange juice for a sweet and savory side.
- Add fruit juice to a marinade for chicken, shrimp or meat.
- Simmer your oatmeal with coconut milk and juice to make a fruity breakfast bowl.
- Blend into a smoothie for an extra fruity flavor
- Stir into Greek yogurt to sweeten it. I especially love this with 100% pomegranate juice!
This fruit juice syrup can be made with any type of fruit you like - apple, pomegranate or cranberry juice would be especially tasty, but I'm a sucker for grape juice. The taste and smell reminds me of childhood (grape scented Mr. Sketch markers and grape Jolly Ranchers to be exact...although I don't know if that's what you want to think about with breakfast). You could also spike the syrup with different spices, like ginger or cinnamon!
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Ricotta Stuffed French Toast with Grape Syrup
Author: Rachael Hartley, RD, LD, CDE, CLT
Serves: Serves 4
- 2 cups 100% grape juice
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 2-3 tablespoons water
- 4 eggs, beaten
- 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut milk
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Pinch nutmeg
- 8 thick slices brioche
- 1 cup full fat ricotta cheese
- 1 tablespoon butter
- In a small pot, stir together grape juice and cornstarch dissolved in water. Set to medium heat and cook, stirring almost constantly, until bubbling, Cook about 3 minutes more until slightly thickened, making sure it doesn't bubble over. Turn off heat and let sit. It will thicken a little more as it cools.
- In a large bowl, whisk together eggs, coconut milk, sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg.
- Pull a little bit of bread out of the center of each slice of bread, making a little well, being careful not to make a hole. Scoop about 1/4 cup ricotta cheese in the well of four of the slices. Top with the other slice of bread.
- Heat the butter in a large skillet on medium heat. Swirl to coat the pan.
- Dip the "sandwiches" into the egg mixture on each side, pressing down slightly so it soaks up the liquid. Add to the hot pan and cook about 4-5 minutes until golden brown. Flip and cook 4-5 minutes on the other side
- Serve warm, drizzled with syrup.