Growing up, most weekends, my mom would make two breakfasts that my brothers and I absolutely adored: buttery, supple French crepes and cinnamon-y French toast. Ever since those days, these two dishes hold a very special place in my heart.
This vegan French toast with Grand Marnier and chocolate is a grown up and elevated variation of a childhood classic. Marrying the liqueur’s floral orange aroma with the slightly bitter flavor of chocolate, this French toast recipe is a great dish to make when you want to treat yourself or loved ones to an upscale brunch or holiday breakfast.
What is great about this recipe, apart from the flavors of course, is that most of the prep happened the day before serving. The thick slices of bread are dipped into the soaking liquid and set in the refrigerator to develop flavor overnight. This time in the refrigerator also allows for the bread to really soften, which results in an almost custardy French toast interior—my personal favorite kind of French toast.
When choosing your bread, opt for the crusty, chewy-interior kind, such a sourdough or a country-style boule, as opposed to anything too light and airy like challah or brioche.
Although the ingredient list for this recipe is rather short, every element plays a crucial role in helping bring this recipe to life. Since this is vegan, cornstarch is used in place of eggs to help thicken the milk mixture a little when cooking. The nutritional yeast lends a little bit of a savory flavor, similar to what eggs would give in a traditional French toast recipe. The milk I chose to use is unsweetened soy milk and although all other nondairy milks, except canned coconut, would work great in this recipe—just make sure you are using the unsweetened kind. Finally, what gives this dish its festive twist are the Grand Marnier, orange zest, and the finishing touch—dark chocolate shavings.
This recipe is best eaten fresh, but the French toast (without the Grand Marnier syrup or chocolate shavings) can be kept in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to two days. —Murielle Banackissa
- Prep time 8 hours
- Cook time 20 minutes
- Serves 4
orange zest (from about 2 oranges)
unsweetened soy milk
maple syrup, divided
Grand Marnier, divided
(1½-inch) slices of crusty bread, such as sourdough or country-style boule
All-purpose flour, for dusting
Unsalted vegan butter, for cooking
Dark chocolate shavings, for serving
- In a large bowl, using a whisk, mix together the cornstarch, nutritional yeast, orange zest, and ground cinnamon.
- Whisk in the soy milk, ¼ cup of the maple syrup, and 2½ tablespoons of the Grand Marnier. One at a time, drop the slices of bread into the liquid mixture and let sit in the mixture for 10 seconds to soak it up slightly, then transfer to a baking dish (large enough to fit all the slices of bread in a single layer is preferable, but you can also stack them on top of eachother. Pour any of the remaining liquid onto the soaked slices of bread and cover with foil. Refrigerate for at least 8 hours and up to 24.
- When you’re ready to cook, heat the oven to 200ºF and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
- Lay out the bread in a single layer (if not already) and lightly dust some flour on the face-up sides of the slices (I used about ¼ teaspoon of flour per slice.) Melt about ½ teaspoon of vegan butter into a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Place 2 slices of soaked bread onto the pan, floured side-down, and cook until golden-brown, about 2 to 3 minutes. Lightly dust more flour onto the now-face-up sides of the bread. If you find that the pan is getting so hot that the bread starts to scorch, drop the heat to medium-low. Flip the bread and cook for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, then place on the parchment-lined sheet pan, then transfer to the oven to keep warm.
- Repeat with the remaining slices of bread, placing cooked pieces on the same sheet pan and returning to the oven as they are ready.
- Before serving, prepare the Grand Marnier syrup. Mix together the remaining ¼ cup of maple syrup and ½ tablespoon of Grand Marnier. (The syrup can easily be doubled if desired.)
- Serve the French toast warm, garnished with Grand Marnier syrup and dark chocolate shavings.