CRANBERRY PECAN FRENCH TOAST CASSEROLE (make ahead)

Any time I have our family over for a visit either for the holidays, or anytime, I like to plan ahead.  I lay out the menu on an excel spreadsheet and I start preparing what I can in advance.  This is one of those great recipes that you can prepare in advance and then freeze.   You put it in the refrigerator the night before you plan to serve it, that morning, leave it out on the counter until it’s room temperature, then warm in the oven for about 30 minutes, you’ll have a great breakfast treat for your family and/or guest!

1 stick unsalted butter

1 C packed brown sugar

5 eggs

1 1/2 C half & half

2 T Maple syrup

1 loaf Cranberry Pecan Multigrain Bread (18 oz.), sliced into 9 – one inch pieces

1 tsp. vanilla

1 T Grand Marnier

1/4 C chopped pecans

1/4 tsp.  salt

cinnamon for sprinkling

powder sugar for dusting

In a small saucepan melt butter with brown sugar and Maple sugar over medium heat, stirring until smooth and pour into a 13 by 9 by 2 inch baking dish.  Cut the loaf of Cranberry Pecan Bread into 1 inch pieces, setting aside the ends.    Arrange bread slices in one layer in baking dish, squeezing them slightly to fit.  There should be about 9 pieces.  Sprinkle top layer with chopped pecans and cinnamon.

In a bowl whisk together eggs, half-and-half, vanilla, Grand Mariner, and salt until combined well and pour evenly over bread.  Take a regular fork and poke holes in the bread to help with absorption.  Chill bread mixture, covered, at least 8 hours and up to 24 hours.

Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees and bring bread to room temperature.

Bake bread mixture, uncovered, in middle of oven until puffed and edges are pale golden.  (35 to 40 minutes).

SERVE HOT FRENCH TOAST IMMEDIATELY, SPRINKLED WITH POWDER SUGAR AND CINNAMON WHEN SERVING.  You can also serve with hot Maple syrup!

ALSO:  YOU CAN COVER WITH PLASTIC, THEN FOIL AND FREEZE COOKED FRENCH TOAST FOR UP TO ONE MONTH!!  WHAT A WAY TO PLAN AHEAD FOR LARGE HOLIDAY MEALS!   (To heat over, bring to room temperature, cover with foil and heat in 325 degree oven for 25-30 minutes.)

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