Mini Carrot Cake Whoopie Pies

April 21, 2011

What a fantastic treat for Easter! I’m sure they must be a favourite of the Easter Bunny and are definitely one of my favourites now too! These cookies are incredibly moist, and enticingly spicy.

Sweet, but not overwhelmingly so, which works great with the sweet cream cheese frosting sandwiched between. Believe me the cookies are delicious on their own, but oh, with the addition of that creamy filling…just heavenly!

These little bite-sized morsels are completely addictive. And how fun! You get your own personal little carrot cake! Maine is definitely on to something…Who wouldn’t love a whoopie pie?!

Mini Carrot Whoopie Pies

Slightly Adapted from Craving Chronicles (If you haven’t been to this blog you are missing out! Gorgeous photos!)

Makes 12 Mini Whoopie Pies (filled cookies)


3/4 cup golden raisins (2 1/2 ounces)
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, softened
1/3 cup packed dark brown sugar
1/3 + 3 tablespoons cup granulated sugar
1 large egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 cup finely grated carrots (2 medium or 4 small)
1 cup walnuts (3 ounces), chopped

8 ounces cream cheese
4 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 1/2 cups powdered sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla


Place raisins in a small bowl and add enough hot water to cover. Set aside for 5-10 minutes, then drain thoroughly and pat dry.

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, spices, baking soda and salt.

In the bowl of an electric mixer, beat butter, sugars, egg and vanilla until smooth and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Mix in carrots, walnuts and raisins on low speed. Add flour mixture and beat just until combined. Set dough in refrigerator to chill for 15-30 minutes.

Preheat oven to 375°F. Line two baking sheets with Silpats or parchment paper.

Working with one baking sheet at a time, drop 1Tablespoons of dough per cookie onto baking sheet about 2 inches apart. Bake each sheet separately, 13-15 minutes or until centers spring back to the touch. Cool on pan for 2 minutes, then transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

To make the frosting, beat cream cheese and butter in a stand mixer, scraping down sides with a spatula as needed, until smooth. Add powdered sugar slowly, only a couple of tablespoons at a time and vanilla. Mix until a thick frosting consistency is reached, adding more powdered  sugar as necessary.

If making ahead, store cookies at room temperature and frosting in refrigerator. Frost cookies before serving.

Honey-Glazed Pear Breakfast Crisp

April 2, 2011

Keeping with my recent pear theme, I was thinking you just might have some of those little devils left over from the Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve you made after seeing my previous post. So, I’ve got another wonderfully mouth-watering pear dish for you, Honey-Glazed Pear Breakfast Crisp. This really is quite a treat! I’m not kidding. Breakfast will quickly become your favourite meal of the day. It’s very easy to make and you can even prepare the Granola or “Crisp” part ahead of time, so that it comes together even quicker on the morning you wish to serve it. I must say, this granola just barely takes a back seat to the Honey-Glazed Pears in this dish. My husband generally doesn’t even care for Granola and he couldn’t stop sampling it. (“quality control” don’t you know) It’s a bit sweet, nutty, salty and crunchy. YUM! I had a bit left over and ate it sprinkled on top of yogurt in the morning and it was absolutely outstanding.

Mmmmmm! Crunchy goodness!

But then there are the Honey-Glazed Pears. Oh my stars, these are unbelievable! After being gently cooked, these pears are tossed in the pan with warm honey, butter and vanilla and seasoned with cinnamon, cardamom and a hint of salt.

Pears cooking

Need I say more?! Combined with the granola crisp it is a match made in heaven. I found this recipe on Spoon With Me. Make sure you take a look at it there. The pictures Jennifer takes are truly gorgeous. She serves her Honey-Glazed Breakfast Crisp with Pomegranate seeds sprinkled over the top. Alas, I had none on hand and served mine with a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Fantastic! I can’t wait to try the Pomegranate seeds next time.

Honey-Glazed Pear Breakfast Crisp

Recipe from Spoon With Me

Serves 4-6

The granola can be made up to three days in advance, and re-crisped in a 275˚ oven for 15 minutes.

Ingredients For the Granola:

  • 2 cups rolled oats (not quick cooking)
  • 1 cup pecans, roughly chopped
  • 1/2 cup ground flax seeds
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) unsalted butter
  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar (packed)
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Ingredients For the Pears:

  • 4 medium pears (ripe, but not overly soft), peeled, halved, cored, and thinly sliced
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons mild honey, such as clover, to taste (depending on the sweetness of the pears)
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • a pinch of kosher salt
  • vanilla yogurt to top with

Directions For the granola:

Preheat the oven to 300˚F.  Combine the oats, ground flax, and pecans in a medium bowl and set aside. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat. When hot, add the butter, honey, brown sugar, vanilla, and salt. Stir and cook until the butter is melted and the sugar has dissolved.

Pour the butter mixture into the medium bowl with the oats. Stir well, until the oats are coated.

Spread the oat mixture onto a large baking sheet. Bake for 15 minutes. Stir, and then cook for an additional 15-30 minutes, or until golden and crisp (note: the granola will continue to crisp as it cools).

Directions For the Pears:

Heat a large frying pan or saucepan over medium-high heat.  Add the pears, and cook for 8-10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the pears release some of their liquid and the edges begin to take on a transparent appearance.

Push the pears to one side of the pan.  On the empty side of the pan, melt the butter together with the honey and vanilla extract. Toss to coat the pears in the honey mixture.  Sprinkle the cinnamon, cardamom, and salt over the pears and stir to combine.

To Serve:

Scoop some of the granola into small bowls.  Top with the pears.  Add a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Sprinkle a little more granola over the top.

Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve

March 24, 2011

Both my husband and I love pears. They’re great anytime of the year really. So when I saw this recipe for a Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve on The Serendipity Diary blog I just couldn’t resist! This recipe is fantastic for so many reasons. First and foremost is that it is very easy to make and tastes amazing! Furthermore, it really enhances whatever food you choose to pair it with. We have put it on toast, oatmeal, scones, served it with a cheese tray and used it as a spread on various sandwiches. Yum, yum, yum!

Jarlsberg and Smoked Gouda Cheese Tray with Pear Conserve

The hardest thing about this recipe is the pears themselves. Let me clarify that, catching the pears at the exact millisecond that they are ripe. You know what I mean. You buy some lovely pears at the market and can’t wait to eat them, but they are hard as little rocks. So you put them in your fruit bowl and remind yourself that patience is a virtue. You check them diligently for days, or even hours if you’ve dealt with these little devils before. Nevertheless, they seem to go from little rock, to ripe, to pile of mush in mere seconds! Makes you feel like you just can’t take your eyes off of them!

Me vs. Pear in staring contest

I’ve tried the trick where you put them in a closed brown paper bag to accelerate ripening, with mixed results.

It's a mystery!

I tell you it is maddening! But if you can catch them at just the right moment they can be absolutely dreamy! Once you have your ripe pears, you just throw them into the pot with some sugar, molasses, lemon juice, rosemary, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Ingredients ready to go!

Then you simply let them all cook down until you have this delicious concoction. So set out to make this conserve today. Or if you’d love to try some, but are not feeling particularly motivated, buy yourself a jar from Serendipity Jams, which they sell in their etsy store.

Caramelized Pear & Rosemary Conserve

recipe from  The Serendipity Diary


1 1/5 lbs. ripe buttery Pears-like Bartlett or Warren’s

1/3 Cup sugar

1/8 Cup lemon juice

1 tsp. molasses

1 sprig of fresh Rosemary (approx. 4 inches in length)

Dash each of ground cinnamon and freshly ground nutmeg

1-2 Cups of water on hand to use during cooking


Wash, core, de-stem and cut the pears into about 2″ pieces.

In a small to medium stock pot over medium heat combine pears, lemon juice, spices, and sugar and molasses. Give the mixture a good stir and let the pears begin to soften and caramelize. (Approx. 10-15 minutes)

Add about 1/2 Cup water and the rosemary to the pot, bring the pears to a gentle boil and continue stirring.

Continue adding water to the pears when most of the moisture has evaporated, continuing until the pears have broken down and are soft and spreadable.

Once the desired consistency is reached, remove and discard the rosemary.

Ladle conserve into clean, sterilized jars. Let the jars cool and then keep them in the refrigerator for 2-3 weeks.

Beef & Guinness Pie

March 15, 2011

Beef and Guinness…need I say more. My idea of comfort food. This pie is not only so simple to make but also so incredibly delicious. The filling for this pie is cooked slowly for 1 1/2 hours to allow the flavour of the Guinness to thoroughly permeate it.You won’t believe the fantastic, mouth-watering aroma that will fill your house while you’re preparing it. You can even prepare the filling a day in advance should you desire. Make it on St. Patrick’s Day and watch your guests melt at the first bite! This is another Chef Gordon Ramsay recipe and it will not disappoint! The Chef recommended baking the Beef & Guinness in an 8″ pie dish. I have done this and it is not only very easy, but presents very well. However, I was feeling creative the other night and thought I’d try some variations, so I baked a couple servings in French soup bowls and covered them with a shortcrust pastry.

Beef & Guinness Pie in soup bowls

Not to be stopped there, I made smaller individual pies by lining the wells of a large popover pan with pastry dough, filling it with the Beef and Guinness and then cutting a bit more of the pastry for a lid.

Stand-alone Beef & Guinness Pie

Yummy Guinnessy Goodness inside!

Adorable huh? No matter how you package it, you just can’t go wrong with this recipe!

Beef & Guinness Pie

Recipe by Chef Gordon Ramsay


1 1/2 lb. (750g) lean braising steak, eg. skirt of beef, beef chuck

4 Tablespoons all-purpose flour

Freshly ground salt and pepper

4 Tablespoons olive oil

1 Tablespoon tomato purée

16 oz. (500ml) Guinness

3/4 lb. (350g) shallots, peeled and chopped

a few sprigs of thyme

2 Bay leaves

2 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped

1 egg yolk mixed with 1 Tablespoon water

Pastry Dough-either shortcrust or puff pastry-enough for 8″ pie dish minimum


Dice the beef into  1″ (2.5 cm) cubes. Place the flour in a medium-sized bowl and season well with salt and pepper. Roll the beef in the flour to coat.

Heat the oil in a large pan and fry the beef until golden brown in colour. Add the tomato purée and cook for 1 minute, stirring well. Then pour in the Guinness and add the shallot, thyme, bay leaves and garlic. Season with the salt and pepper. Cover and simmer for 1 1/2 hours. Remove the bay leaves.

Preheat oven to 390° F (200°C/Gas 6)

Transfer the meat to a 8″ (20 cm) pie dish-2″ (5-7 cm) deep

Roll out the pastry and cover the pie. Scrunch the pastry to the edge of the dish and trim around the edge, leaving 1-2 cm overhanging. Brush the top with the egg. *for the baking dish variations shown above, read below*

Transfer to a baking tray and place in the oven. Bake for 15-20 minutes and serve immediately.

Serves 4-6

*For French Soup Bowls or Individual Ramekins:

Place Beef & Guinness filling in baking dish of choice. Roll out pastry. Cut pastry lid 1-2″ larger than dish. Brush the underside of the lid with the egg wash. Fit to top of dish and scrunch the pastry to the edge. Brush the top of the pastry dough with the egg wash.

*For Popover Stand-alone Pies:

Lightly grease the individual wells of a large popover pan. Line each well with pastry dough making sure there are no holes in the pastry lining and that it is snug against the walls of the well. Work the pastry so that it comes up just over the edge of the well so that you can easily attach a lid. Cut your lids out to be slightly larger than the diameter of the popover well. Poke a couple of holes is the lid so that steam can escape during baking. Fill the pastry lined wells with the Beef & Guinness mixture. Brush the underside of the lid with the egg wash. Place lid on the top of the individual pie and crimp around the edges. Brush the top of each pie with the egg wash. Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Let pies cool in pan for 5 minutes. Gently slide them out of the pan. Do not grab the top and pull or risk the top of the pie breaking off.

Celtic Pork Tart

March 14, 2011

Celtic Pork Tart is another incredibly easy dish to prepare, but tastes like you worked all day on it!  I like to make my own tart dough, and have included the recipe I use. But if you are pressed for time, a store-bought 9″ pie crust works just fine. Basically you just mix all the ingredients together, spoon it into your baking dish and 45 minutes later you have a fantastic dinner. Although the recipe indicates that either dates or apples are fine, I must say that I have tried both and think that dates give it that extra sweetness that makes it unique. When you think of a meat pie, generally sweet is not what you are expecting. But let me tell you the sweet and savory combination works! And its great straight out of the oven as well as straight out of the fridge. If you want to try something different than the ole Corned Beef and Cabbage for your St. Patrick’s Day feast, give this dish a try!

Pork Tart


For the Tart Dough:

1 large egg yolk

2 Tablespoons ice water, plus more if needed

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 1/4 Cups (6 1/2 oz./200g) all-purpose flour

1/4 tsp. salt

1/2 Cup (4 oz/125g) cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4 ” cubes

For the Pork Filling:

1 1/2 pounds ground pork

1/2 cup chopped dates (or apples as you prefer)

1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese

4 eggs, beaten

Pinch of salt and black pepper

1/4 tsp. freshly ground nutmeg

1/4 tsp. ginger

1/2 tsp. cardamom

Zest of 1 lemon


Pre heat oven to 375° F

In a small bowl, stir together the egg yolk, 2 Tablespoons water, and vanilla.

In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, and salt and pulse to blend.

Add the butter and pulse until the mixture resembles coarse meal with butter pieces no larger than small peas.

Add the egg mixture and pulse just until the dough pulls together. If the dough is dry, mix in more water 1 Tablespoon at a time.

Transfer the dough to a work surface, pat into a ball and flatten into a disk. The dough can be used right away or wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated until well chilled, about 30 minutes.

Lightly flour the work surface, then flatten the disk and roll out to 1/8 inch thickness 2-3 inches larger than your pan.

Fit dough to your 9 1/2 ” tart pan.

Mix together pork, dates, parmesan, eggs, seasonings and lemon zest.

Spoon mixture into uncooked 9″ pie shell or into 9 1/2″ tart pan.

Bake for 45 minutes or until meat thermometer reads 155° F

The tart may be served either hot or cold.

Tart Dough Recipe from The Williams-Sonoma Baking Book

Celtic Pork Tart Recipe from Celtic Folklore Cooking by Joanne Asala

Curry Chips

March 7, 2011

Have I mentioned that I love french fries? I do. One of my favourite foods. In fact, “fry-fry” was among the first words I ever uttered. Love ‘em. Not those skinny little shoestring things, but thick, hefty steak fries, or as they are called in Ireland “Chips”. Which brings me to my second offering in my month of Irish food recipes…Curry Chips. A delicacy found in many chip shops in Ireland, though not so often found here. I will mention though that Eamonn’s, a Dublin style chipper in Old Town Alexandria offers a curry sauce on the side, should you so desire. This certainly is not a difficult dish to prepare, you just fry up a batch of chips and cover them with a curry sauce.

When deep-frying chips previously I had just popped them in the fryer once the oil reached 375° F and let them sizzle away for about 15 minutes. I recently have come across several recipes though claiming that you should twice fry if you really want crispy chips. What you do here is prepare your chips by slicing the potatoes and then placing them in a bowl of ice water for 30 minutes to 1 hour. Remove them from the water and dry them well. Heat the oil to 320° F and fry them for 4-5 minutes. Remove them from the oil and place on a rack to drain. The chips will not be browned at all and will be somewhat softened. Allow them to stand until they are cool. Heat the oil up to 365° F and cook for 5-6 minutes or until golden brown. Transfer to rack and sprinkle with salt.

Now for the curry sauce. I looked around online and tried to find a “chip shop” curry sauce recipe. That is where I first encountered some difficulty. It seems there is a controversy about how to make this sauce. One recipe claims you should chop up apples and onions in the sauce. (I don’t ever remember chunks of apples in my curry) Another claims that chip shops use a more Chinese take-away curry recipe. I was hoping I would just be able to find some sort of pre-made sauce. I had to search far and wide but found this mix at Giant.

Elusive mix

Just add water and boil. Easy-peasy, right? Unfortunately, I was raised in America and have significant difficulties with the metric system. McDonnells Curry Sauce mix is made in Ireland and therefore lists metric measurements in its directions for use. What is half of 125 grams and how do I measure that out? Arghhh!!! President Carter was right! I should be able to deal in metric measurements, along with the rest of the world. Well, I finally figured it out and my curry chips turned out quite nice. My husband really liked them, saying he had never thought of putting curry on chips before, but found it quite yummy. Give ‘em a try.

Scotch Eggs & Chips

February 28, 2011

Its official. I definitely did lead a somewhat food deprived youth. Until last week I had never heard of a Scotch Egg. Indeed I have spent a lot of time in Ireland and have never stumbled across one there either. (Disclaimer: I do not mean to imply Ireland is anything like Scotland and certainly not part of the U.K.-I just thought encountering said egg might have been more likely due to the proximity of the countries). Any hooo……Whilst browsing recipes last week I found one for Inside-Out Scotch Eggs at 8.ate@eight. The author was planning a menu for a Robert Burns night and mentioned a Scotch Egg. She described it as “enrobing a hard-boiled egg with ground meat, breading and deep-frying the sucker”. She also indicated that it ends up “the size of your fist”. Deciding that it would likely not be appropriate as an appetizer for the menu she was creating, she went on to create what looks to be a very tasty and diminutive alternative to the unwieldy scotch egg, her Inside Out Scotch Eggs w/Ground Lamb, Harissa Yolk & Panko Gremolata. Don’t get me wrong…that recipe sounds fantastic, but I couldn’t pay it the attention it deserved. I just couldn’t get past the Scotch Egg. Somewhat obsessed, I searched around online to see what I could find out about them. They were introduced in 1738 by the London Department store Fortnum & Mason. In the UK they are regarded as a picnic food and are usually eaten cold. You can often find them pre-packaged in convenience stores. In the US they are usually found in “British” style pubs and are served hot with mustard or ranch dips. The Minnesota State Fair apparently serves them up on a stick. Again, I ask-Where have I been! I just have to have one of these things! So I set out to make it so and will tell you how you can as well.

You start by hard-boiling the eggs and then removing the shells. Cover your work area with a piece of wax paper and flatten approximately 1/4 lb. of sausage into a thin circle. This is easier to do if your hands are wet-the sausage won’t stick as much. Jay and I love spicy food, so I used “Hot” breakfast sausage. Place an egg in the center of the sausage round and work to enclose the egg entirely in the meat.

Eggs enclosed in sausage

Once this is done, dredge the sausage-coated eggs in flour, dip them in the raw eggs and then roll them in Panko (Japanese Bread flakes), making sure they are well coated.

Panko coated egg

You are ready to fry at this point. I just recently received a Breville deep fryer from my parents (thank you so much guys!) and I am always excited about frying anything! I decided to use peanut oil for frying. I know, I know….peanut oil is supposed to be just awful for you right? I’m not so sure I think thats true. It seems all of our ideas about what oils are healthy and what oils are not are always changing. Peanut oil is high in monounsaturated fat, which is the kind we want. In addition it has resveratrol in it. That is the stuff that you find in grapes and red wine which has been linked to reduced cardiovascular disease. I am sure you shouldn’t be eating fried foods all the time, but we don’t actually eat them often. So when we are breaking out the deep fryer, I am going to use an oil which I know will give me a great tasting treat. The other very important thing to remember when frying things is that the oil needs to be at a pretty high temperature 350-375° F. If the oil is at the correct temperature, the food you’re cooking releases steam, which travels out and prevents oil from seeping back in. The result is food which is light and crisp rather than soggy and greasy. Remember not to over-load the fryer basket as well. Too many items can cause a lower oil temperature, which will result in the soggy, greasy dilemma. We cooked our Scotch Eggs at 365° F for 10 minutes.  Voila!

Finished goodness

We ate these with Coleman’s Original English Mustard on the side. They were nothing short of stellar! Since the deep fryer was already going, we decided to make some french fries or rather chips as well to go along with our eggs. Nothing fancy here. We just cut up some russet potatoes

Fries ready to go

and popped them in the fryer at 375° F for 15-17 minutes and sprinkled them with kosher salt and malt vinegar.


Awesome!  Unbelievable! Don’t deprive yourself-make these today!

Scotch Eggs

1 lb. bulk sausage-we prefer “hot” but  country-style or herbed would work just fine.

4 hard-boiled large eggs-shells removed

1/2 Cup all-purpose flour

2 raw eggs, beaten lightly

1 Cup Panko

Peanut oil for deep frying

Divide the sausage into four equal portions. Flatten into thin circles. Place an egg in the center of each round. Enclose each egg completely in the sausage. Dredge the sausage-coated eggs in flour, dip them in the raw egg and then roll them in the Panko until they are entirely coated. In a deep fryer heat peanut oil to 365° F. Fry Scotch Eggs two at a time for 10 minutes. Transfer to paper towels and salt and pepper as desired.

Caramelized Rum Banana-Stuffed French Toast

February 21, 2011

So while we’re stuffing things into other things, à la the oreo stuffed chocolate chip cookies of my previous post, I thought you might like to see some french toast stuffed with caramelized rum bananas. I know my husband was very happy at its appearance. It’s unbelievably yummy! If the words “caramelized rum bananas” didn’t capture your attention, I don’t know what you’re like. I must admit though, the original recipe that I consulted for this dish did not include rum as one of the ingredients. That might have been all me-with no regrets though! Bananas and rum are without a doubt a match made in heaven.

Rum Bananas Caramelizing

In order to be able to stuff the lovely caramelized run bananas into the toast, you have to start off with a pretty thick piece of Challah bread, about 1 1/2 inches.

Big ole hunk o'bread!

You cut a  2 inch long slit in one side of the bread slice, extending down three-fourths of the way, to create a pocket. Once done you stuff that pocket full of the rummy banana bliss,

Stuffed toast slices

dunk it in the usual french toast egg/milk mixture and then pop it into a Panini maker to cook.

Panini Maker in action

Oh my giddy Aunt! Soooooooo good! The recipe I used recommended topping it with not only a toasted pecan maple syrup, but also a whipped crème fraîche. We were happy topping ours solely with a simple whipped  cream, minus the crème fraîche, and a few extra of the caramelized bananas. We did not feel that any syrup was necessary-as if “necessary” is a word that should come anywhere near this dish. It is pretty darn sweet. However, to each his own and who am I to judge an individuals sweet tooth. So, I have included the toasted pecan maple syrup in the following recipe. Enjoy!

Caramelized Rum Banana-Stuffed French Toast



For the toasted pecan maple syrup:

1 Tbs. unsalted butter

1/2 cup chopped pecans

Pinch of kosher salt

1 cup maple syrup

For the whipped cream:

1 cup heavy cream

2 Tbs. confectioners’ sugar

1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon

For the French toast:

2 Tbs. unsalted butter

2 Tbs. light brown sugar

1/2 cup granulated sugar

2 large ripe bananas, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch rounds

2 Tbs. dark rum

1-lb. loaf day-old challah, ends trimmed, bread cut into 6 slices, each 1 1/2 inches thick

2 cups milk

6 eggs

1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon

1/4 tsp. honey

2 tsp. vanilla extract


To make the toasted pecan maple syrup, in a fry pan over medium heat, melt the butter and cook until lightly browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Add the pecans and cook, stirring occasionally, until lightly toasted, about 3 minutes. Add the salt and maple syrup, increase the heat to high and cook until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and keep warm.

To make the whipped cream, place the cream, confectioners’ sugar and cinnamon in the bowl of a stand mixer. Whip until stiff peaks form. Set aside until ready for use.

To make the French toast, in large sauté pan over medium heat, melt the butter. When the foam subsides, add the 2 Tbs. light brown sugar and the rum, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Add the banana slices and gently toss. Cook until the mixture is lightly caramelized and the bananas are tender, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and let cool. Using a small, sharp knife, cut a slit 2 inches long in one side of each bread slice, cutting three-fourths of the way. Stuff the pockets with the banana mixture, dividing evenly.

Preheat an electric Panini maker. Set a wire rack on a baking sheet.

In a large bowl, combine the milk, eggs, cinnamon, honey, the 1/2 cup granulated sugar and the vanilla extract and whisk together. Pour into a baking dish. Soak half of the bread slices for 5 minutes, turning occasionally.

Place the bread on the Panini maker and cook until browned, 4 to 5 minutes. Transfer to the rack-lined baking sheet. Soak and cook the remaining bread slices. Serve the French toast topped with whipped cream and the maple syrup should you desire. Serves 6.

Adapted from a Recipe by Chef Bryan Voltaggio found on William Sonoma Recipes.


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