Happy National Peanut Butter and Jelly Day everyone!
Seriously, does anyone know who comes up with these holidays? Well, no matter where the origin of these random holidays seem to manifest from, I’m not one to turn down a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Growing up, I was more of a peanut butter and honey kind of girl, but even still I did eat my fair share of the old-school pb&j variety. Even now I turn to pb&j’s when I’m craving comfort foods, although there have been a few changes over the years; the store bought bread has been replaced with homemade whole wheat, the Kraft peanut butter has been replaced with natural and even the Smuckers jelly has been swapped for farmer’s market jam, so yummy! I don’t think I can ever get sick of them.
But everyone knows how to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, so I thought I’d do something a little more extravagant. Enter stuffed French toast! When I was watching an episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, there was a diner who had this completely over the top delicious looking French toast stuffed with cream cheese and caramelized bananas, just looking at it made my arteries tighten. Immediately I was set on making my own animal friendly interpretation.
For the bread, I made the whole wheat bread from Jeffrey Hamelman’s Bread. The only change I make is to sub more whole wheat flour for most of the white. This has become one of my favorite whole wheat bread recipes to date. P even loves it! And that’s saying something considering his aversion to the flavor of whole wheat breads.
I haven’t made french toast since my pregan days, I know, weird right? So I went to the PPK in search of a recipe that I knew would be good. Isa has yet to steer me wrong and she didn’t with this one either. Although I recommend not licking the batter, raw chickpea flour tastes all kinds of nasty. To make the french toast even more awesome, all I did was add in a big heaping blob of peanut butter, and voila! Peanut butter french toast. The bread is filled with jam, caramelized bananas and cream cheeze, dipped in the batter and fried. Once all cooked and golden brown I drizzled it with a strawberry compote. I sprinkled some toasted coconut on top, but some roasted peanuts or powdered sugar would be a nice touch. If you’re in need of a decadent brunch item, this will meet all your needs, it almost gets bumped into dessert territory…almost 😉
Peanut Butter & Jelly French Toast Stuffed with Caramelized Bananas
Makes 4 – 6 servings depending on bread size
- 8 to 12 slices of French bread, baguette shaped, preferably stale (or really any baguette shaped bread will do)
- 1 cup unsweetened soy milk, warmed
- 2 tablespoons cornstarch
- 1/4 cup chickpea flower
- 1/2 cup natural peanut butter
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup strawberry jam
- Several tablespoons canola or vegetable oil
- 2 medium firm bananas, sliced
- 1 teaspoon margarine
- 1 tablespoon brown sugar
- 1/2 cup non-dairy cream cheese (I used Tofutti)
- 13 ounces (about 3 cups) fresh or frozen strawberries, roughly chopped
- 1 tablespoon agave
- 3-4 tablespoons water
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch mixed with 1 tablespoon water
- Garnish with fresh berries, roasted peanuts and/or powdered sugar
Caramelized bananas: In a medium skillet over medium heat, melt margarine. Spread out banana slices in pan and fry for a few minutes allowing them to sear, flip and sear the other side. While the other side is frying, sprinkling the bananas with brown sugar and cook, stirring gently, until the sugar begins to caramelize. Remove from heat and fold bananas into cream cheese. Let mixture come to room temp before using.
Strawberry Compote: In a medium saucepan, over medium-high heat, add strawberries, agave and 3 tablespoons of water. Bring mixture to a boil, then turn heat down to simmer. Add cornstarch slurry and mix, then let simmer until mixture begins to thicken. If mixture seems to thick, add in an additional tablespoon of water. Remove from heat and set aside.
French toast: Pour the soy milk into a wide, shallow bowl. Mix in the peanut butter, cornstarch, cinnamon and vanilla and whisk until dissolved. Add the chickpea flour and mix until it is mostly dissolved; some lumps are okay.
Lightly spread jam on two slices of bread. Take about two teaspoons (depending on the size of your bread) of the banana cream cheese mixture and put it in the center of one of the jam covered slices, top with the other piece of bread. Place in the fridge for 5 to 10 minutes to let set.
Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add enough oil to create a thin layer on the bottom (a tablespoon or two).
Soak the chilled sandwich on both sides in the mixture and transfer to the skillet. Cook each side for about two minutes; if they are not brown enough when you flip them, heat for 1 or 2 minutes more on each side. They should be golden brown with flecks of dark brown. Once the sides are cooked, put the sandwich upright and cook the top and bottom, you want to try and cook all angles of the sandwich.
To plate: Carefully cut french toast in half, drizzle with strawberry compote. Top with fresh berries, and roasted peanuts and/or powdered sugar.