Valentine's Day is one of the only days in the year where anything you eat can come shaped as a heart and be uberly sweet. Before you begin a sweet-filled day with boxes of chocolate, chocolate-covered strawberries and packages of conversation hearts, take a whack at this dessert French toast treat found on Pinterest.
Who can resist a classically stuffed French toast dish? Take your simple jelly and cream cheese-filled French toast and upgrade it to a Valentine's Day worthy meal by stacking three heart-shaped pieces of French toast and stuffing them with Nutella, mascarpone cheese and freshly sliced strawberries. Sounds like the perfect breakfast to kick off Valentine's Day to me.
The first step you must take is to shape your bread slices into hearts. Whatever bread you use must be stale; otherwise, as you slice the pieces into hearts, the bread will fall apart, and you want a crispy piece of French toast when you cook them on the stove. You can use whatever kind of bread you prefer. I like a thinner French toast, so I used whole wheat sandwich slices, but you can also use a thick sourdough, French bread or challah, like the blogger used.
If you have a giant, heart-shaped cookie cutter, use that, but if you don't, here is how you can easily shape your bread into hearts. Slice a "v" in the middle at the top of your bread slice. This makes the dip of the heart. Use the natural curves of the crust to keep the round tops of the heart, then make a diagonal line starting in the middle of each side and ending at the bottom to meet at the center of the bottom crust. Remove those pieces and you are left with a heart-shaped slice of bread. Repeat these steps for two more slices of bread; each serving is three slices of French toast.
Now that you have your heart-shaped slices of bread, whip together your favorite French toast mixture. I used half a cup of milk, two eggs, and about a tablespoon each of cinnamon and vanilla extract (I love the sharpness of the vanilla flavor). Sometimes, if I want the French toast to be sweeter, I add a sprinkling of granulated sugar, but because you're going to add strawberries and Nutella, there is no need to add more sugar.
Heat a skillet to medium heat, add about two tablespoons of butter, then gently dip each slice into the egg and milk mixture. Be careful when lifting each slice out of the wet mixture because they can easily split in half. So, use two forks to lift them out of the bowl and into the skillet. Cook each slice until puffy and crispy on the edges.
Place each slice on a plate, not stacked yet, and add the appropriate toppings to each slice to assemble your stacked and stuffed French toast. The base of the stack begins with one slice of bread topped with mascarpone cheese, followed by slices of fresh strawberries. Then spread nutella on the other slice of bread and place nutella-side down onto the strawberries. Spread another layer of nutella on top of the second slice of bread, then top it with more strawberries. Finish the stack by spreading mascarpone cheese on the last slice of bread and place that slice, mascarpone cheese-side down, onto the strawberries.
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For extra decadence, complete your stacked French toast with whipped cream and a sprinkling of cinnamon.
The creaminess of the mascarpone cheese balances perfectly with the sweet and rich nutella, and the natural sweetness of the strawberries -- it's basically a dessert and is a wonderful way to tell someone you love them.