I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Overnight Eggnog French Toast Casserole

Overnight Eggnog French Toast

I have a thing for eggnog.  I think it is my favorite holiday flavor.  I buy all the eggnog flavored holiday gimmicks – candy, yogurt, ice cream, coffee creamer (and I don’t even drink coffee).  I love a good glass of eggnog, but I don’t really drink it as much as I bake with it. I have become something of an eggnog baking expert.  In fact, in planning out my Christmas posts, I had to restrain myself from an all eggnog – all the time situation.  But at least one recipe, I couldn’t resist.

Over the last few years, our big family potluck holiday meal has been on Christmas Eve, so I have taken over the Christmas day meal.  My family all live very close together, so we have a multiple move-around houses morning, seeing what the kids got under the tree, transporting gifts from one house to the next.  We end up at my parents’ house for a holiday brunch, the menu of which usually changes from year to year.  But we have made this easy overnight casserole a standard.  Christmas is Christmas, right?  So we tend to go all out.  We have bacon, ham and sausage, cheese grits and cheesy eggs, biscuits and French toast.  And all this after we eat muffins and kringles and whatever is lying around in the early morning, usually gifts from friends.

This is a perfect Christmas morning dish, whether you serve it as part of an elegant brunch or sitting around in pajamas.  It is easy to put together, you do it the day before, and just pop it in the oven.  It smells and tastes like Christmas and will start the day off right.

Overnight Eggnog French Toast Casserole

This is a really tasty dish on its own, but can be drizzled with some maple syrup or warm cranberry sauce.

½ cup (1 stick) of butter

1 cup packed light brown sugar

2 Tablespoons light corn syrup

1 loaf of firm white sandwich bread, crusts removed

5 eggs

1 ½ cups dairy egg nog

¼ cup sugar

1 ½ teaspoons ground cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon vanilla

Grease a 9 by 13 inch casserole dish.

In a small saucepan, melt the butter, sugar and corn syrup over medium heat, stirring frequently, until the butter is melted and the mixture is thickened and syrupy, about seven minutes.  Pour ¾ of the syrup over the bottom of the baking dish, swirling and spreading it to cover.

Place a layer of bread slices over the syrup in the dish, cutting them to fit if necessary.  Fill the dish as tightly as possible.  Drizzle the remaining syrup over the bread, the add another of layer of bread slices.

Beat the eggs in a bowl, then add the egg nog, sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg and vanilla.  Whisk together until completely combined.  Pour the custard over the bread layers in the dish, pressing the bread down to be covered by the custard if it floats to the top.

Cover the dish tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate eight hours or overnight.  When ready to bake, remove the dish from the fridge to take the chill off.  Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, then bake the casserole for 35- 40 minutes, until golden and puffed and a tester inserted in the middle comes out clean.  Serve warm. 

Serves 6 – 8

And here’s a little extra: You can make this even when it’s not Christmas.  Just replace the eggnog with half and half and alter the seasoning to taste.  Orange zest and cinnamon are fantastic, or lemon zest and some lemon juice.

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