Thanks to Butternut Mountain Farm for partnering with me to bring you this recipe.
Nothing quite puts me in the mood for the holiday season like a festive brunch. This holiday pain perdu is absolutely irresistible, not to mention incredibly adorable too!
Holiday Pain Perdu
In America, it’s normal to find an array of sweet dishes at a brunch gathering. Pancakes, waffles, French toast…these are just a few of the staples you’ll find in a brunch spread.
The French, however, reserve sweets of this nature for dessert. Pain perdu, which is the fancy French way of saying French toast, is typically enjoyed for dessert rather than breakfast or brunch.
But since I’ve always enjoyed my breakfast foods on the sweeter side, I’m going to tell you to skip the eggs and bacon and go straight for this holiday pain perdu!
To make pain perdu, you’ll want to use brioche slices. You can either make the brioche ahead of time if you’re a fan of baking your own breads, or you can simply buy a ready-made loaf from the store. You can typically find brioche in the bakery section of the supermarket.
To create a holiday twist on classic pain perdu, I cut out gingerbread men shapes from my brioche slices. It’s an easy extra step to making pain perdu, and it provides a really adorable presentation. Kids go crazy for these!
The batter for the pain perdu is made with a simple mix of eggs, milk, and sugar, with some holiday touches like orange zest, nutmeg, and vanilla.
While pain perdu is delicious, it’s really the maple syrup that makes this breakfast complete.
I used Butternut Mountain Farm’s grade A amber rich maple syrup (you can find it here). I’ve been using this syrup for the past 7 years, since I first discovered it.
I can’t tell you how amazing this stuff is. Not only is it 100% pure maple syrup from Vermont, it’s got superb flavor.
Many of the maple syrups out there just taste like dissolved sugar, but not this one. Butternut Mountain Farm‘s syrup has that authentic, woody, maple flavor that I love while also being delicate enough to garnish breakfast foods like this pain perdu, or even oatmeal and yogurt.
I was first attracted to this syrup because I loved the vintage look of the glass bottle with the wax seal. The seal is really easy to open; just run the seal under hot water for 20 to 30 seconds and it’ll peel right off.
Once your holiday pain perdu has finished cooking, you can garnish with a quick icing made up of cream cheese and powdered sugar. I use the icing to create little faces for the brioche men before I pour the glorious Butternut Mountain Farm syrup all over.
When entertaining, I typically cut out all the gingerbread men the evening beforehand and store them in a large ziplock bag in the fridge. I also make the batter ahead of time and refrigerate that, along with the cream cheese icing.
In the morning, all I have to do is dip and fry the bread, then pipe the smiley faces on.
I’m telling you, whether you make this for your family or a whole round of guests, you are going to be SO happy you added this recipe and maple syrup to your table! Fair warning, though…if you do make this for guests, just know they may never leave!
If you’d like to learn more about Butternut Mountain Farm’s syrups, make sure you check out their website!
Holiday Pain Perdu
The "real" French toast made with fluffy brioche dipped in a custard batter and fried until golden and crisp along the edges.
- 8 slices of brioche
- 2 eggs
- 1/2 cup whole milk
- 1 tsp orange zest
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1 tsp granulated sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
- 1-2 tbsp unsalted butter
- 2 oz. cream cheese room temperature
- 2 tbsp powdered sugar
- Butternut Mountain Farm grade A amber rich maple syrup to pour on top
Use a gingerbread man cookie cutter to cut out large gingerbread men from the brioche slices (see note). Temporarily set aside.
To a shallow, wide square container or bowl, add the eggs and give a whisk to break up the yolks. Add the milk, orange zest, vanilla, sugar, and nutmeg. Give everything a whisk again until combined well.
To a frying pan, add a tablespoon of butter and heat over medium-high heat. Once the butter has melted and is bubbly, lower the heat to medium. Briefly dip the brioche men into the egg batter, dipping each side, then place in the frying pan. Fry the first side for about 45 seconds to 1 minute, until golden and crisp. Flip and fry the opposite side for another 15 to 25 seconds, until that side is golden and crisp as well.
Continue the previous step for all the cut out brioche, melting more butter in the pan as needed. Allow the fried bread to slightly cool on a plate while you get the icing ready.
In a medium bowl, beat the cream cheese with the powdered sugar until smooth and frosting-like. Scoop the icing into a pastry bag fitted with a small, narrow tip, or scoop the icing into a ziplock bag with a very small corner snipped off.
Pipe eyes and a smile (or any other design you want, such as buttons or sleeves etc.) onto the bread. Pour the maple syrup all over the pain perdu before serving.
You'll want to use a 2.5" to 3" gingerbread man cookie cutter to get the biggest cut-out pieces of toast that you can out of the brioche slices.
To make ahead, simply cut out the brioche and store in a large ziplock in the fridge. Make the egg batter in a separate container the evening before and refrigerate. Make the icing the evening before and store in the fridge as well.
You can save the brioche scraps for another brunch recipe like my Cinnamon Crumble French Toast