Some of my fondest memories are spending time with my cousin, Lisa in Nashville, TN. She and her husband Travis are masters at using what they have in the fridge and pantry to create these amazing gourmet meals. Oh and Bourbon and Bacon night...don't get me started about that food spread.
On one of my more recent trips, she whipped up a Cranberry Orange French Toast Casserole using croissants as the base. Her yummy concoction had dried cranberries, slivered almonds and the buttery perfection of the croissants made this deliciousness melt in my mouth and left me wanting seconds. It is definitely the inspiration as the basis for my sweet, seasonal ramekin creations.
The French Toast Casserole has been a hit among guests even before we opened our doors. Friends and family that came to visit helped me to perfect different flavors of casseroles depending on the season. So we now serve Peach, Apple, Cranberry and with the most recent addition of Blueberry. I must say this one might be our favorite. (Caution: I tried a Strawberry back in February and did not care for that one as much. Strawberries are best served as shortcake)
I did not capture the best pictures while I made the recipe, so I will come back and update the post with some better images. I have had so many requests for the recipe, I wanted to get this up on the blog ASAP. Variation Notes: I used frozen blueberries for this version, but feel free to substitute fresh berries when they are in season. At the B & B I prefer to bake in ramekins for individual servings, but I think most folks would bake this for family in a 9 x 13 pan.
Blueberries & Cream French Toast Casserole
1 cup sugar
1 cup orange juice
1 tbsp corn starch
4 cups blueberries
1 tbsp cinnamon
10 bakery croissants
2 cups milk
2 tsp vanilla
8 oz cream cheese softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of 8 ramekin containers or a 9 by 13 pan.
In a sauce pan, whisk together orange juice, corn starch, sugar and cinnamon. Bring to a simmer to dissolve sugar. Add blueberries and reduce heat. Cook until blueberries pop and cook down. Stir frequently and cook mixture for approximately 30 minutes.
While the sauce is cooking, cube the croissants. Next, in a large mixing bowl, whisk together eggs, milk and vanilla. Pour over cubed croissants and let this mixture sit and soak in while preparing cream cheese mixture.
Stir together cream cheese, sugar and vanilla. Tip: I microwave my cream cheese for about 30 seconds to soften.
Once your blueberry mixture is reduced to a thicker consistency, add 3/4 of the sauce to your bread mixture and fold through. (reserve remaining sauce to reheat and pour over the top of your baked casserole)
Pour this mixture into your 9 by 13 baking dish. Dollop your cream cheese randomly over the top of the bread. Bake for about 35 to 45 minutes at 350 degrees until golden brown.
If using ramekins, I spoon about 1/2 cup of the bread mixture into the base, add a spoonful of the cream cheese, top with another 1/2 cup of the bread mixture and top with another dollop of cream cheese. Bake for about 35 minutes at 350 degrees until the tops are golden brown. I then reheat the remaining sauce and spoon warm sauce over the top.
I hope you enjoy this version of Blueberries and Cream French Toast Casserole with your family and friends as much as I love making it. Plan your stay at the Lodge and request your favorite flavor when you book your stay! I am happy to accommodate your requests. See you soon.