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Christmas Morning French Toast

For me, nothing is more soothing after Christmas gift-opening madness than cooking something decadent... and just a little involved. With smells filling the kitchen and little hands sneaking in for tastes of the bread (it's SO delicious on its own), this dish captures the very essence of Christmas morning: intentionally special, decidedly decadent, and just a little magical.

Ingredients:
1 Panettone, any flavor (though mine was filled with dried apricots)
[need Panettone for the recipe? Click here.]
4 extra large eggs
2 cups heavy cream
2/3 cup sliced almonds
1 cup dried apricots
6 or so dried figs (optional)
1 bunch fresh mint
Butter for melting in pan (one Tbsp. per batch)

Directions:

1. In dry pan over medium heat, toast the almonds until brown (toss or stir frequently to prevent scorching). Set aside in ramekin for serving.

Toasted almonds (left) have more crunch, color, and flavor than un-toasted (right).
2. Chop apricots and dates into 1/4 inch chunks. Roughly chop mint, or chiffonade if you're feeling fancy. Set each item aside in its own ramekin for serving.
3. Whip 1 cup heavy cream until luxurious, but not too stiff. I use NO sugar in the whipped cream, as this dish is sweet enough. Set aside for serving.
4. Slice Panettone loaf in half vertically, then slice each half into 3/4" thick slices. Yes, that thick!
5. In a wide, shallow bowl, mix eggs and 1 cup of heavy cream until well blended.
6. Melt 1 Tbsp. butter in non-stick pan over medium heat. Dunk a slice of Panettone quickly in egg mixture, making sure both sides are coated, but it doesn't get soggy. Immediately place in hot pan. Repeat with enough slices to fill the pan (my pan fits three slices).
7. When golden brown on one side, flip to second side and cook until golden brown.
8. Place golden slices on a plate and allow each person to garnish with their choice of prepped toppings. Repeat cooking with other slices, melting a new tablespoon of butter before each batch.
This dish requires no syrup, as the bread and dried fruits are plenty sweet. Of course, it's up to you, but I recommend tasting before syruping.