Crunchy Vanilla-Almond French Toast with Fruit Topping, Sweet-n-Smoky Bacon
- 1 pound applewood smoked bacon
- 1/2 cup dark brown sugar
- 8 large eggs
- 1 cup half-and-half
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 pinches salt
- 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg , ground or freshly grated
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 3 cups corn flakes , lightly crushed
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds , lightly crushed
- 4 tablespoons butter
- 12 slices (1 1/2-inch-thick) challah bread or soft "Italian" style bread
- Medium or dark amber maple syrup to pass at table
- Mint sprigs and edible flowers , suggested plate garnish
- 1 large navel orange , peeled and chopped
- 12 large strawberries , sliced
- 1/2 pint blueberries
- 1/2 pint raspberries
- 1/2 pint blackberries
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1/4 cup orange liqueur (recommended: Grand Marnier)
Arrange bacon on slotted broiler pan. Sprinkle with brown sugar and place in oven to bake until crisp, 20 to 22 minutes.
Preheat a large nonstick skillet over medium heat.
In a shallow dish, beat together with a wire whisk: eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, salt, nutmeg, cinnamon. In a second shallow dish combine flakes and nuts. Add 2 tablespoons butter to warm skillet. Place a cookie sheet lined with foil (for easy clean-up) near the stove. Coat 4 to 6 slices of bread in egg, depending on the size of your skillet, then coat bread in cornflakes and nuts. Cook slices 2 minutes on each side and transfer toast to cookie sheet. Repeat with remaining slices and transfer toast to oven. Bake 10 minutes, with already cooking bacon.
While bacon and toast are in oven, combine fruit, sugar and liqueur in a serving bowl and reserve.
Remove toast and bacon from oven. Warm syrup in a small pitcher in microwave 15 seconds on high. Serve toast and bacon on plates with optional garnish of mint and edible flowers.
Pass syrup and topping at the table.