For our meal this evening, I went the breakfast-for-dinner route and prepared this Apricot Cheesecake French Toast. I used slices of whole-wheat bread tonight, but if you wanted to make these more special, use hefty slices of egg-rich challah bread.
On each slice of bread, we smeared a thin layer of softened cream cheese that we mixed with a spoonful of granulated sugar and amaretto to infuse an almond-y flavor. If you don't want to use alcohol, I would suggest using orange juice instead to add a little boost. On half of the smeared slices, we added an even layer of apricot jam and then sandwiched them together with the other cream cheese-laced bread. Be sure to put a bit a pressure around the edges to create a seal to prevent any leaking from the jam.
Keeping with the French toast theme, the assembled stuffed sandwiches are soaked in a mixture of beaten eggs, milk, another spoonful of sugar and a few drops of almond extract. You'll probably have a little of the eggy liquid leftover, so just drizzle that over the tops of the sandwiches. We didn't have much, but there was just enough extra that we didn't want to waste it and the bread drank it right up. Since these individual "stuffed" French toasts are a little delicate to handle, they are baked in the oven, rather than trying to deal with them on a griddle. This also gives the cream cheese filling plenty of time to marry with the apricot jam hidden inside.
The trip in the oven gave both sides a rich golden color - the outside of the bread was a little crispy, while the center was warm and moist. We were both pleased that they were very much not soggy at all, especially since Jeff has texture "issues" with mushy things (which is why you rarely see me making something like bread pudding... *sigh*). To pair with the amaretto in the cheese spread and the almond extract in the soaking liquid, we scattered the top of each French toast sandwich with toasted sliced almonds. We found these sweet enough as is, so a simple dusting of confectioners' sugar was just right for us, but I certainly wouldn't turn away a drizzle of pure maple syrup on top! I'd love to try this again with cherry jam since cherries and almonds play well together - or how about blueberry jam and toss in some fresh lemon juice and lemon zest? If I was feeling especially indulgent, I might think about switching the jam all together with a healthy spoonful of Nutella!
Apricot Cheesecake French Toast