Rosewater-Cardamom French Toast
French toast is truly a breakfast indulgence. Carbs cooked in butter and drenched in sugar. Can you think of anything better? I decided to make this recipe in preparation for Valentine’s Day (rose-themed, duhhh). Inspired by muhallibi, a Middle Eastern milk pudding flavored with tons of rosewater, I wanted to create a similar flavor profile for this dish. Rice milk is steeped with cardamom before getting streamed into eggs, sugar and rosewater to make a fragrant soaking liquid for challah slices. Cooked in butter and topped with dried rose petals and a rosewater-infused maple syrup, it’s so much better than a bouquet of flowers.
FYI: I love soggy foods. Like give me tres leches any day. With the fact that the dish is inspired by a pudding, I wanted the inside of each piece of French toast to be super custardy. This is achieved by a thin rice milk batter that soaks through the bread. It’s key to be super gentle with the slices of challah when they’re soaked, as they will be delicate. When you cook them, the eggs and cornstarch will thicken the interior, turning soggy bread into custardy perfection.
Yield: 4 to 6 servings
Prep Time: 15 minutes, plus cooling and soaking time
Cook Time: 20 minutes
Total Time: 35 minutes, plus cooling and soaking time
6 green cardamom pods, cracked
4 cups rice milk
1/2 cup sugar, divided
1 teaspoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons rosewater
1 egg challah, cut into 1-inch slices
1 stick unsalted butter
1 cup maple syrup
Dried rose petals, for garnish
In a medium saucepan, toast the cardamom pods over medium heat until fragrant, then add the rice milk and 1/2 of the sugar and bring to a simmer.
Meanwhile, in a large bowl, whisk together the eggs with the remaining sugar and the cornstarch.
Once simmering, slowly whisk the rice milk into the egg mixture followed by 1 tablespoon of the rosewater, then let cool completely.
Layer the challah in a large baking dish. Pour the cooled rice milk mixture over the challah, flipping the pieces to make sure each one is coating. Let soak for 5 minutes, then transfer the soaked challah pieces to a sheet pan.
Heat 1 tablespoon butter over medium heat in a large nonstick skillet. Add 2 to 3 pieces of challah and cook until golden brown, 2 to 3 minutes.
Flip each piece, then add another tablespoon of butter to the pan. Cook until the other side is golden, then transfer to a platter. Repeat this process until all the French toast is cooked.
Combine the maple syrup in a serving jar with the remaining rosewater and stir to incorporate. Divide the French toast between plates and garnish with dried rose petals. Pour the rosewater-maple syrup over the French toast, then serve.