I had hazelnuts leftover from the hazelnut brown butter cake, and I’ve learned the hard way that hazelnuts can go rancid rather quickly if left on the shelf too long, so I wanted to go ahead and use up the ones I had. I was in the mood for French toast, and we also had some stale leftover bread, so I thought adding a crust of hazelnuts would kill two birds for one dish. We’ve been buying oranges by the bag, so I added some orange juice and zest to the soaking liquid, and threw in a little Cointreau for good measure (though if you don’t have any, you could easily leave that out). The next weekend, I made it again with pecans instead of hazelnuts — great either way. And a tip from my mom — if you have extra orange juice, stir some into the maple syrup to top the toast. Though it’s a little more work, I’m sure these would also be great topped with the syrup from our favorite orange nutty pancakes.
Hazelnut Orange French Toast
8 slices day-old French bread
1/2 cup hazelnuts, chopped pretty finely
1/2 cup milk
1/4 cup orange juice (fresh squeezed if possible!)
zest from 1 orange
1 t cinnamon
1 T Cointreau (optional)
dash of salt (optional)
Lightly beat the egg and add the milk and orange juice. Stir in the zest, cinnamon, salt, and Cointreau (if using).
Melt a couple teaspoons of butter in a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. When the butter is melted, dip each side of the bread in the egg mixture, dip one side in the nuts, and place, nut side down, on the skillet or griddle.
Cook over medium heat, about 5-7 minutes total per side, until golden brown. I often end up turning them back and forth a few times to make sure the inside gets done but the outside doesn’t brown too much (especially the nut side), after a French toast disaster in which the inside stayed a mushy eggy mess. (That’s also taught me not to try to use white sandwich bread for French toast, even if you really, really want French toast, and it’s the only thing in the house.)
If you’re using a skillet, it’ll take a couple batches. Keep the earlier batches warm on a platter in the oven on its lowest setting.
Top with heated maple syrup, mixed with a bit of orange juice if you like.
If you end up with leftovers, it’s pretty good re-toasted in the toaster oven.