This recipe is basically an adaption of my favorite kind of PB&J. At first, I thought of combining the pistachio paste with whipped cream cheese, but it turned out that the tanginess of the cheese was a bit too overpowering. Enter mascarpone—mild tasting, super creamy, and definitely delicious. I added some chopped and toasted pistachios in there as well, because I’m a huge fan of crunchy nut butters and wanted to emulate that texture.
As for my favorite type of PB&J—have you ever eaten a pistachio butter and blackberry jam sandwich? Try it. It’s pretty on point. This recipe is all of that, soaked in a delicious custard and cooked to a golden brown. Go on your diet next week—this is worth it. —Alex LoRe
For the Pistachio Mascarpone:
Preheat oven to 350°F. Shell pistachios if not already shelled and spread out on a baking sheet. Toast for about 6 minutes, or until aromatic. Cool, chop finely, and place in a small bowl. Increase oven temperature to 375°F.
Combine mascarpone, pistachio paste and chopped pistachios in a medium bowl and mix until ingredients are completely incorporated. Set aside.
For the French Toast:
In a shallow baking dish, whisk milk, eggs, honey, vanilla, orange zest, and salt until frothy and combined. Set aside.
For each challah piece, use a paring knife to carefully slice a pocket into the bread. Slice into the bottom side of each piece, lengthwise, and cut nearly through to the other side of the bread, making sure to leave the sides intact. Use your fingers to open the pocket and create space for the filling.
With a butter knife, carefully fill each pocket with a 1/4 of the pistachio mascarpone. Next, spread as much of the blackberry jam on top of the mascarpone as you can, making sure the fillings are spread throughout the entire slice of bread while still being able to close the pocket you created. Set aside and continue with 3 remaining slices.
Soak the filled challah pieces in the custard for 30 seconds per side, and place on a plate to rest.
Melt one tablespoon butter in a large nonstick skillet over medium low heat. One by one, cook challah slices for 2-3 minutes per side, or until golden brown, adding more butter to the skillet before adding another piece of stuffed bread. Place cooked french toast pieces on a rimmed baking sheet and finish cooking through in the oven for 5 minutes.
Cut each piece in half and finish with a dusting of powdered sugar, maple syrup, or both. Serve immediately.