Dear SOS: Square One Dining in Hollywood serves the most amazing French toast I've ever had. Could you persuade them to share the recipe?
-- Adel Aschenbrener, Hollywood
Dear Adel: Square One's take on French toast is thin slices of brioche dipped into a rich, homemade crème anglaise, then grilled to fluffy, golden perfection. You almost don't need butter and maple syrup.
Square One Dining's French toast
Total time: 1 hour, 15 minutes, plus chilling time
Note: Adapted from a recipe from Square One Dining. Whole-loaf brioche is available at Trader Joe's and Breadbar (pain de mie); it also can be ordered at Whole Foods. Clarified butter is available at Trader Joe's, Whole Foods, well-stocked supermarkets and Indian grocery stores. You also can make it by heating a small amount of butter over low heat in a small saucepan; ladle out the clarified butter, straining out the floating solids, discarding the butterfat on the bottom of the pan.
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, divided
3/4 of a vanilla bean (split lengthwise)
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
Generous 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
10 egg yolks
1 tablespoon clarified butter
1 loaf brioche bread, sliced into 1/2 -inch thick slices
1. To make the crème anglaise, place 1 cup of the cream in a medium saucepan over low heat. Scrape the seeds of the vanilla bean pod into the cream, then drop in the pod too. Bring just to a simmer. Remove from the heat and allow to infuse for 30 minutes.
2. In a small bowl, combine the sugar and salt. In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks. Whisk half of the sugar-salt mixture into the cream, and whisk the other half into the egg yolks. Slowly pour the warm cream into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly until incorporated. Pour the mixture back into the saucepan and return the pan to low heat.
3. Cook the mixture, stirring constantly but not vigorously until the mixture thickens, making sure to prevent the mixture from curdling. When thickened, remove the mixture from the heat and strain through a fine mesh strainer into a medium bowl, discarding any solids and the vanilla pod. Whisk in the remaining one-half cup heavy cream, and whisk over an ice water bath to cool. Cool the crème anglaise in the refrigerator, preferably overnight for the flavors to develop.
4. To make the French toast, heat a sauté pan or griddle over medium heat until hot. Add enough of the clarified butter to thinly coat the surface of the pan. Dip the bread, one slice at a time, into the crème anglaise to coat on both sides, then remove, shaking off any excess batter.
5. Place the bread on the pan or griddle and grill 2 minutes per side, until golden brown on both sides. Remove and set aside in a warm place. To serve, place four slices on a warm plate and serve immediately with softened butter and maple syrup on the side.
Each serving: 928 calories; 15 grams protein; 66 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 68 grams fat; 39 grams saturated fat; 779 mg. cholesterol; 292 mg. sodium.