You might know chef Harold Dieterle as the winner of Top Chef, season one. Or, you might know him as the chef and co-owner of Perilla and Kin Shop,both in NYC's West Village. I know him because before I was an editor at BuzzFeed, I worked as one of his line cooks. Like every chef on earth, Dieterle likes to give his line cooks (and ex-line cooks) a hard time, which made this BuzzFeed Breakfast extra fun.
Having working in restaurant kitchens for the better part of two decades, Dieterle cares a lot about food. Justifiably VERY UPSET about a burnt omelet he'd seen on my Instagram feed the day before, he kicked off our morning at the BuzzFeed Test Kitchen with an impromptu tutorial on how to make the perfect (not "burnt to shit") omelet. Here's the video, if you want to up your omelet game.
Dieterle also knows a thing or two about hangovers. "The whole idea behind this dish is, I got totally bombed on Christmas Eve one year from drinking too much eggnog," he told BuzzFeed Life. "The next morning I was asked to make breakfast. I decided on a little hair of the dog, and we had some French toast with eggnog in it." The version below calls for bourbon instead of rum, because eggnog season is over and bourbon maple syrup is the best thing that can happen before noon. And don't stress if you don't have challah bread. "You can use brioche," Dieterle says. "And actually the first time I did this, I used Wonder bread." Just be sure to get a good coat of corn flakes on each slice, and don't go light on the bourbon.
Here is everything you'll need to make the boozy French toast:
1. Start by making the boozy syrup. Put a small pot on a burner and add the maple syrup, golden raisins, and bourbon.
Part of the reason this French toast is so awesome is that it's an excuse to EAT bourbon for breakfast. But, if booze in the morning isn't your thing, you can skip it. Just heat the maple syrup and the raisins over low heat so that the raisins plump a little bit.
If you're one of those people who ABSOLUTELY CANNOT STAND RAISINS (I know you're out there), I guess you could do without them. Just don't skip bourbon and raisins, because then you're wasting a pot heating up plain maple syrup.
2. Bring the syrup to a boil over high heat, then turn the heat to low and simmer everything for about 10 minutes, until the raisins are plump, like this:
3. Set the syrup aside while you make the French toast. Preheat the oven to 375°F, then slice the challah into 8 slices, each about 1 inch thick.
4. Pour a hefty amount of bourbon into a large mixing bowl.
5. Add eggs, sugar, milk, and cream.
6. If you love food and really care about breakfast, buy whole nutmeg and use a microplane to freshly grate a little bit into the egg mixture.
7. Pure vanilla extract is key, too.
8. Whisk it all together so that the eggs are beaten and everything is an even consistency.
9. Spread about two cups of corn flakes out on a plate or large baking dish.
10. Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium heat. If your skillet is big enough for 4 pieces of French toast, melt 4 tablespoons of butter. If it'll only fit 2 pieces, only melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
11. While the butter melts, set up a dredging/crusting station with the slices of bread, then the bowl of egg mixture, then the plate of corn flakes. Soak the bread in the egg mixture until it's saturated.
12. Lay the saturated pieces, a couple at a time, on the plate of corn flakes, and press them down just a little bit.
13. The corn flakes will need a little help sticking, so you can pack them on there with your hands. But, ONLY PUT CORN FLAKES ON ONE SIDE OF THE BREAD!
14. When the butter is melted, carefully place the bread slices, corn flake side-down, in the skillet.
15. Let the French toast cook for about 2 minutes so that the corn flakes get crispy and golden brown, then carefully flip the slices.
16. Add a couple more tablespoons of butter to the pan.
17. Cook the French toast for about another two minutes, until the underside is golden brown.
18. Put the skillet in the preheated 375°F oven, just for 3 minutes.
19. When they come out of the oven, they should be slightly puffed up.
20. Put the finished pieces of French toast on a baking sheet with a rack and set them aside while you make the rest of the french toast. To make sure they're hot, just put the sheet in the oven when you put the skillet in the oven to puff the french toast.
21. When all of the French toast is ready to go, plate them with a generous amount of boozy syrup and raisins.
If you want to get really crazy, throw some ice cream on there. Preferably ice cream with bourbon in it.
If it's too early for ice cream, a waterfall of boozy syrup will do just fine.
Boozy Corn Flake-Crusted French Toast
Recipe by Harold Dieterle
For the syrup:
1/3 cup bourbon
2/3 cup maple syrup
1/4 cup golden raisins
For the French toast:
1 large loaf challah bread
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cup milk
1/3 cup bourbon
1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
about 2 cups corn flakes, for breading
10 tablespoons butter
For they syrup:
Combine all the syrup ingredients in a small pot over high heat. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat to low so that the mixture is simmering. Cook until the mixture is about 3/4 its original volume and not too runny, 10-15 minutes. Leave the syrup in the pot while you make your French toast, and reheat it right before you're ready to serve.
For the French toast:
1. Preheat the oven to 375°F.
2. Cut eight slices of challah, each about an inch thick. You won't use the whole loaf, so try and use the pieces closer to the middle, since they'll be slightly bigger.
3. In a large mixing bowl, combine eggs, sugar, cream, milk, bourbon, nutmeg, and vanilla extract. Whisk everything together until the eggs are thoroughly beaten and the mixture is an even consistency.
4. Set up a dredging/coating station with the slices of challah on a plate on one side, the large mixing bowl with the egg mixture in the middle, and another plate with the corn flakes spread out over it on the other side.
5. Dredge and crust the French toast by dipping each slice in the egg mixture and soaking for about 20 seconds, then pressing it into the plate of corn flakes. If you need to, you can use your hands to help the cornflakes stick. ONLY PUT CORN FLAKES ON ONE SIDE OF THE BREAD! And only dredge and crust as many slices as you can fit in your skillet at a time. Otherwise, the slices will sit around for too long and get soggy.
6. If your skillet is big enough for 4 slices of bread, melt 4 tablespoons of butter in the skillet over medium-low heat. If your skillet is only big enough for 2 slices, melt 2 tablespoons of butter.
7. Once the butter is melted, put the dredged and crusted bread slices in the skillet, corn flake side-down. Cook over medium-low heat just until the cornflakes start to brown and crisp, about 3 minutes. Carefully flip each slice and cook until the undersides are golden brown, 2 minutes more.
8. To finish, put the skillet in the preheated oven just until the French toast starts to puff, about 2 minutes.
9. Transfer the finished French toast to a baking sheet fitted with a rack and set it aside while you make the remaining batches. To reheat, just put the finished French toast back in the oven on the baking sheet for a few minutes.
10. To serve, drizzle with the boozy syrup!