It’s been a while. I’ve been mostly eating away during this vacation in Brazil, but I also found a couple of opportunities to cook with relatives in a leisurely way – a rare case when you have little people around. It is Christmas time and it still does not feel like it. Maybe after 10 years up north, it just doesn’t feel like Christmas when on vacation in my tropical home country. We are so much in vacation mode that when my sister suggested ordering a whole ceia (Christmas Eve meal) from a nice restaurant, it took us 2 seconds to say yes.
There is one thing that I won’t pass on though: rabanadas. This Portuguese/Brazilian version of french toast is traditionally served as a Christmas dessert (Brazilians are usually not very fond of a sweet breakfast), but the Americanized version of me wants it for brunch. So I will be making it again for brunch on Christmas day. It is also great served as a snack in the afternoon with tea or coffee. It is crispy on the outside and soft and custardy inside, and sweetened with condensed milk and granulated sugar, there is no need for syrup on top, but be my guest. Back home I will be serving this with berries to balance the sweetness and to call it healthy(er).
I used the Brazilian staple called pão francês, but baguettes would work perfectly. Brioche or challah would work well too. Whatever bread you choose should be stale and dry, so that it doesn’t fall apart after soaking up the liquids.
What will be on your table on Christmas morning? Happy holidays!
1 baguette (or 4 pães franceses)
2 cups of milk
1 can of sweetened condensed milk
2 eggs, beaten
1 pinch of cinnamon + more for dusting
sugar for dusting
Cut the baguette in slices about 3/4 inches thick. In a wide dish, whisk the milk with the sweetened condensed milk and dip the bread slices until they are soaked thoroughly but not too long that they will fall apart (a few seconds per side should be enough, it will depend on how dry your bread is). In a small bowl, beat the eggs with a fork and add the cinnamon.
In a frying pan over medium-high heat, heat the vegetable oil, dip each baguette slice in the egg mixture and fry them in batches until browned, then place them on a shallow dish lined with paper towels to absorb the excess oil. Whisk equal portions (or more of one or the other, according to your taste) of cinnamon and sugar on a plate and place bread slices to slightly coat on both sides. Serve hot or room temperature.
Try adding vanilla to your beaten eggs or a pinch of nutmeg to the sugar/cinnamon dusting bowl for extra flavors.