Island Coconut French Toast

May 21, 2013
0 Ratings
  • Makes 8 slices of toast
Author Notes

Last summer we traveled to Isla Mujeres, a small island off the coast of Mexico near Cancún. In addition to lounging around the pool of the house we rented and snorkeling with whale sharks, we ate at a variety of local restaurants. One of our favorites was the Mango Café, and we had breakfast there 3 times during our stay. They made a fantastic coconut french toast using concha rolls. I thought Hawaiian sandwich buns would make a reasonable substitute for the concha, and be much easier to find. After some tinkering I think I've hit a good approximation of the dreamy island French toast I remember. —hardlikearmour

What You'll Need
  • 4 Hawaiian sandwich buns (or substitute 8 ½-inch thick slices of Hawaiian bread)
  • ¾ cup sliced almonds
  • 1 can coconut milk (I used full-fat, but feel free to use light)
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons light rum
  • ¼ teaspoon almond extract
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • sweetened flaked coconut – about one cup
  • 1 to 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • powdered sugar
  1. Preheat oven to 300º F. Trim “dome” off tops of buns, using the bottom buns as guides for thickness. Discard or re-purpose “domes”. Place bread on a wire rack set over a baking sheet. Dry in oven for about 15 minutes, flipping after 10 minutes. Remove from oven and cool at least 5 minutes.
  2. Place sliced almonds in a pan and toast until golden, about 10 minutes. (Do this at the same time as the bread is drying.)
  3. Reduce heat to 200º F. Return the baking sheet and wire rack to the oven after removing the buns.
  4. Combine coconut milk, eggs, brown sugar, rum, almond extract, and salt in a bowl and whisk until well mixed. Transfer to a 13- by 9-inch baking pan.
  5. Set a wire rack over the sink or a baking sheet.
  6. Soak the buns in batches, for 15 to 20 seconds on each side, then transfer to the wire rack. Sprinkle the surface of each bun half with about 1 tablespoon coconut, then gently press to adhere it.
  7. Heat a 12-inch non-stick skillet over medium-low heat. Add ½ tablespoon butter, and when it stops sizzling transfer several bun halves to the skillet, coconut side down. Sprinkle an additional ½ to 1 tablespoon coconut onto the bread, and gently press with spatula to adhere (it won't adhere as well to the second side as it did the first). Flip the buns when golden, about 3-4 minutes. A few loose coconut shreds in the pan will help indicate when the buns are ready. Cook the second side until golden, another 3 to 4 minutes. Transfer to the wire rack in the oven to keep warm while cooking the rest of the buns. Wipe out skillet, and add ½ tablespoon butter for each new batch.
  8. Serve first side up, dusted with confectioner's sugar, and sprinkled with toasted almonds.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • ChefJune
  • EmilyC
  • TheWimpyVegetarian
  • Midge
  • gingerroot
I am an amateur baker and cake decorator. I enjoy cooking, as well as eating and feeding others. I live in the beautiful Pacific Northwest with my husband and our menagerie. I enjoy outdoor activities including hiking, mushroom hunting, tide pooling, beach combing, and snowboarding.

23 Reviews

ChefJune May 31, 2013
I'm not familiar with Hawaiian bread, but how do you th ing Challah would do as a substitute?
hardlikearmour May 31, 2013
Hawaiian bread is a soft, fairly sweet bread. I think Challah or a nice quality sandwich bread would be a perfect substitution.
EmilyC May 27, 2013
Made this today -- delicious! The flavors here are really lovely. I'd never thought to make French toast with coconut milk, let alone Hawaiian bread, so this was a unique, interesting twist. I'll definitely make again. I subbed rum extract for the rum, though I'm sure it's even yummier with the real deal. My kids loved it so I may have to credit you if they continue to like coconut! : )
hardlikearmour May 27, 2013
I'm beyond thrilled you made it and liked it! I'm glad your kids liked it, and I hope they will be coconut lovers for life!!!
EmilyC May 27, 2013
Forgot to add that your instructions are great. I appreciate the step about drying the bread in the oven since I was starting with fresh.
hardlikearmour May 31, 2013
Thanks! Dry bread is much better at sucking up the tasty custard w/o getting soggy.
JudyD May 22, 2013
I have half a loaf and will be trying your recipe as soon as I get the coconut milk! I have everything else on hand. Thanks for sharing...sounds like it has a special place in your heart as well as your tummy!
hardlikearmour May 22, 2013
I hope you like it! I have very fond memories of Isla Mujeres, and the coconut French toast is one of them.
JudyD May 22, 2013
Portuguese sweet bread is the same as the Hawaiian rolls in the recipe...plenty of great Portuguese bakeries in the Northeast...they know how to make sweet bread!
hardlikearmour May 22, 2013
Ahhh! Thanks for the suggestion.
I'm totally making this HLA, without the almonds unfortunately. Any suggestion for an alternative? I can eat pine nuts, but that's about the only nut. Or maybe sesame seeds??
hardlikearmour May 21, 2013
I love the idea of the sesame seeds with the coconut!
I'll toast them too. I'll let you know how it turns out :-)
Midge May 21, 2013
YUM. We've got a bakery here that makes killer Hawaiian rolls. Can't wait to try them with this.
hardlikearmour May 21, 2013
I bet it'll be good! I just used King's brand, figuring it would be widely available.
gingerroot May 21, 2013
Gorgeous and sounds divine. Yum.
hardlikearmour May 21, 2013
Thank you, gr!
mrslarkin May 21, 2013
Yes, please. Any good subs for Hawaiian bread here in the NE?
hardlikearmour May 21, 2013
I'm guessing you can find King's Hawaiian brand buns/bread near you, but if not I'd go with challah as a substitute.
EmilyC May 21, 2013
Wow, this looks and sounds amazing! You have a way with French toast...I've made and love your maple rosemary version!
hardlikearmour May 21, 2013
Thanks, EmC! I really like French toast.
lapadia May 21, 2013
I think it looks delicious!
hardlikearmour May 21, 2013
Thank you!!!