Pumpkin French toast stuffed with blackberry-caramel mascarpone

  • Blackberry-Caramel:
  • 100ml double cream
  • 225g sugar
  • 100ml water
  • 110ml blackberry puree
  • 2 tsp blackberry liqueur
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • French toast:
  • 4 large eggs
  • 50g sugar
  • 1/4 tsp fine salt
  • 100g pumpkin puree
  • 1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground ginger
  • 390ml whole milk, plus more if needed
  • 100ml double cream, divided
  • 2 tsp vanilla essence
  • 1 Tbsp dark rum
  • 8 slices day old challah, sliced 1 1/4-cm thick
  • 90g unsalted butter
  • 2 Tbsp vegetable oil
  • 325g mascarpone, at room temperature
  • 450g blackberries, halved lengthwise
  • Icing sugar
  • Fresh mint sprigs, for garnish
For the blackberry-caramel:
1) Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan over high heat and cook, without stirring, until amber brown, about 8 minutes. Meanwhile heat the cream gently in a small saucepan over a low heat.

2) Slowly whisk the warm cream into the caramel, then the blackberry puree and liqueur, and cook until smooth and slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in the vanilla essence. Leave to cool to room temperature.

For the French toast:
1) Preheat the oven to 180C/Gas 4. Whisk together the eggs, sugar and salt in a large baking dish until smooth. Add the pumpkin puree, ground spices, milk, 60ml of the double cream, the vanilla and rum and whisk until smooth.

2) Put 4 slices of the brioche in the custard mixture and leave to sit for 2 minutes. Carefully turn over the slices and leave until the bread is completely soaked through, about 2 more minutes.

3) While the bread is soaking, heat 1/2 the butter and 1/2 the oil in a large frying pan over a medium-high heat until the mixture begins to sizzle. Cook the 4 slices of the bread until golden brown on the bottom, about 2 to 3 minutes. Flip over and continue cooking until the other side is golden brown, about 2 minutes longer. Place on a baking sheet in the oven to keep warm. Wipe out the pan with paper towels and repeat the process with the remaining butter, oil and pieces of bread.

4) Combine the mascarpone and the remaining 60ml of double cream in a bowl and use a stand mixer or hand-held mixer to beat until fluffy and smooth. Scrape the mixture into a bowl and fold in a few tablespoons of the blackberry-caramel sauce. Put the remaining sauce into a small saucepan over a low heat, or put it in the microwave for a minute or so to just warm through.

5) Remove the French toast from the oven and arrange on a serving platter. Top 4 slices of the toast with a large dollop of the blackberry-caramel mascarpone and some of the fresh blackberries. Cover with the remaining 4 pieces of toast and drizzle each with some of the warm blackberry caramel sauce. Sprinkle with icing sugar, garnish with a fresh mint sprig and serve.

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