Culinary SOS: French toast with orange compote

(Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times)

Dear SOS: The Arizona Biltmore Hotel in Phoenix serves the most delicious stuffed French toast I have ever eaten. Would it be possible to get the recipe?

Gayle Taylor

La Canada-Flintridge

Dear Gayle: We loved this take on French toast — small, mascarpone-stuffed rounds, lightly scented with cinnamon and fried, then topped with a bright orange compote. And it’s perfect for company; make the compote and assemble the “sandwiches” ahead of time, then fry shortly before serving.

Mascarpone-stuffed French toast with orange compote

Total time: 1 hour, 20 minutes

Servings: 6 to 9

Note: Adapted from the Arizona Biltmore in Phoenix. This recipe requires a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter.

Orange compote

3 (10.5 ounce) cans mandarin oranges packed in juice

2 3/4 cups orange juice, divided, more as needed

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1/2 cup sugar

2 tablespoons cornstarch

1. Drain the canned mandarin oranges, reserving the juice; you should have 1 1/2 cups reserved juice (if you are short, make up the difference with additional orange juice).

2. In a large, heavy-bottom saucepan, combine the canned oranges, reserved mandarin juice, 2 1/2 cups orange juice, ginger and sugar over high heat.

3. Bring the mixture to a strong simmer and cook, stirring frequently, until the compote is reduced to sauce consistency, about 40 minutes. As the compote reduces, the color will deepen to a rich apricot shade.

4. When the compote is almost reduced, in a small bowl combine the remaining one-fourth cup orange juice with the cornstarch, whisking to thoroughly combine and form a slurry.

5. Add the slurry into the reduced compote, stirring until the compote thickens, about 1 minute. Remove from heat. This makes about 1 1/2 cups compote. You might not use all of the compote for the remainder of the recipe; to store, cool the compote then cover and refrigerate until needed. The compote will keep for about a week, refrigerated. Gently warm in a saucepan before serving.

French toast and assembly

About 2 loaves white sandwich bread (you will need 36 slices, enough for 18 sandwiches)

1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (about 10 ounces) mascarpone cheese

6 eggs, beaten

1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons milk

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar

Canola oil for frying

Orange compote, warmed

1. Cut the bread: Use a 2 1/2-inch round cookie cutter to cut through the center of each slice to form a round. Spread 1 tablespoon mascarpone over each of half of the rounds, then cover with a remaining round of bread. Repeat, forming 18 sandwiches.

2. In a large bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, cinnamon and sugar to form a batter.

3. Heat a large flat skillet over medium heat. Add 1 to 2 tablespoons canola oil to the pan (enough to form a thin film), heating until the oil is hot.

4. Dunk a sandwich quickly into the batter, coating on all sides. Place the sandwich in the skillet and fry until golden and crisp on both sides, about 1 minute per side.

5. Repeat with the remaining sandwiches until all are fried, holding the fried sandwiches in a warm place.

6. To serve, place 2 or 3 warm sandwiches on each plate, topping with a spoonful of compote. Serve immediately.

Each of 9 servings: 538 calories; 13 grams protein; 54 grams carbohydrates; 2 grams fiber; 31 grams fat; 15 grams saturated fat; 212 mg. cholesterol; 29 grams sugar; 425 mg. sodium.