For the last 6 Christmas mornings, I've been asked to bring Paula Deen's French Toast Casserole by my mother-in-law. No matter how I try to suggest something different - it's an unpretenious crowd-pleaser. This recipe is a variation of Paula's french toast casserole and bake (check out her original recipes on www.foodnetwork,com.) I love it because it's rich, sweet, crunchy and so easy to make - tastes like a warm chocolate, hazelnut cinnamon roll. A delicious addition to the brunch menu after opening presents on Christmas Day. Make sure the egg miture covers your dish with the bread slices, careful not to cause overflow, My favorite part is the crispy top pieces of bread covered with a few of the choclate chips and chopped hazelnuts. Sinful, indeed... —sexyLAMBCHOPx
Stale French Baguette, corners cut off and sliced 1 inch, approx 13 to 16 oz.
Find your favorite casserole dish and butter well. I use a pretty, very large oval casserole dish for presentation purposes that's oven-to-table. No smaller than 3 quarts, this bake does rise.
The night before serving, arrange the sliced stale french baguettes into rows that fit your dish overlapping, if possible.
This may be a good time to take out 2 sticks a butter from the fridge so they are nice and soft for the morning.
In a large bowl add in and whisk the 8 eggs, cocoa, table salt, cinnamon, vanilla extract, nutmeg until frothy. pour the mixture over the bread slices making sure you get it betwwen the slices. Make sure the entire slice is well coated with the egg mixture.
Cover tightly with platic wrap and refridgerate overnight. You may want to place a pan under the casserole dish in case of leakage.
The next day about 1 hour before serving start making the praline topping. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.
Carefully take out your bread egg mixture casserole dish out of the fridge. You will see that most of the egg mixture has soaked through the bread slices. Now take one cup of your chocolate morsels and scatter between the slices of bread and any empty crevices not covered by bread.
Wash your hands, things are gonna get messy. To make the topping place the softened butter sticks, chopped hazelnuts, cinnamon, nutmeg and light brown sugar, and 1/2 cup chocolate morsels in a mixing bowl. Combine all using your hands until fully incoporated.
Scatter the praline topping over the casserole dish.
Bake for 45-55 minutes making sure the top doesnt burn and the egg miture on the bottom is cooked through.