I love breakfast and brunch! When I have the time, I love cooking a giant hearty breakfast, whether it's for myself, my boyfriend, or a full room of people. I also love showing people that vegan food can be hearty, indulgent, and satisfying just as much as non-vegan food. In fact, I helped create The Chopping Block's very successful Vegan Brunch class, which featured French toast on the menu.
Whenever I work a morning class, sometimes for our “chef app,” the initial food offering you get at the beginning of each cooking class, we will make something brunchy (that's a word in my book). Recently, while working a morning class in our upstairs kitchen at our Lincoln Square location, the chef instructor asked me to make a brunch chef app. Seeing that we had a few day-old baguettes on hand, I decided to make French toast. Day-old bread is PERFECT for French toast.
I wanted to give the French toast some oomph, but was unsure of what to add. I found a can of coconut milk, some brown sugar, and chickpea flour, which gives the “egginess” to the vegan batter (also great for crepes and pancakes by the way). I added some vanilla bean paste, which gave the batter a rich sweetness, as well as the pretty dark flecks of vanilla bean. It was coming together, but it still needed something.
While I was prepping, another chef set a bottle of dark rum next to me as she prepped for a Bananas Foster recipe. I saw that, grabbed the bottle, and poured a small splash of rum in the batter. (I swear, there must have been the lightbulb over my head at that moment!)
THAT was the oomph my French toast needed. The dark rum added some richness, some bite, and complimented the coconut, brown sugar, and vanilla beautifully, giving it a very island-like flavor.
This recipe serves 4-6 people, and takes about 10-15 minutes to prep.
Vegan Vanilla Rum French Toast
1 15-oz can full-fat coconut milk
¼ cup dark brown sugar
¼ cup chickpea flour
Pinch of salt
1 tbsp vanilla bean paste or extract
3 tbsp - ¼ cup dark rum (or 2 tsp rum extract)
1 day-old* baguette, cut into 1-inch slices
Coconut oil or non-hydrogenated margarine, for griddling
*If your bread is fresh, you can slice it and toast it in the oven at 375 for 8-10 minutes, or until crisp.
In a shallow bowl or baking pan, whisk together the coconut milk, brown sugar, chickpea flour, salt, vanilla, and rum.
Melt coconut oil or margarine in a cast iron griddle pan or skillet over medium heat. While your pan is heating, drop in your slices of bread and let soak for about 10-15 seconds per side. Place slices onto the pan, keeping the slices from touching. Griddle 3-4 minutes per side (I like mine darker, so I let them go closer to 4 minutes). Serve warm with maple syrup or fruit, and other vegan brunch accoutrements.
With this recipe, you will see that vegan brunch can be deliciously satisfying and hearty, just like any other food.
You can try that Bananas Foster I mentioned earlier in our Bloody Mary Brunch class at Lincoln Square next month. It's not vegan, but it's definitely brunch!