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
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.
Place sliced almonds in a pan and toast until golden, about 10 minutes. (Do this at the same time as the bread is drying.)
Reduce heat to 200º F. Return the baking sheet and wire rack to the oven after removing the buns.
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.
Set a wire rack over the sink or a baking sheet.
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.
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.
Serve first side up, dusted with confectioner's sugar, and sprinkled with toasted almonds.
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.