Rabanadas (Brazilian French Toast)
Rabanada, the Brazilian version of French Toast and a traditional dessert at Christmas supper in Brazil, is served most commonly, and most traditionally, with a syrup made from sweetened and spiced Port wine. This makes sense, as the dish itself is one that Brazil inherited from the Portuguese--like Port wine. Rabanada is typically eaten after midnight mass. It's also delicious for breakfast.
12 slices of stale baguette, sliced about 1½-inch thick
3 large eggs
¾ cup condensed milk*
½ cup milk*
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
½ cup granulated sugar
½ tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder (optional)
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
3-4 tbsp oil for frying
*replace the milks with 1 ¼ cup nut milk
Port Wine Syrup (optional)
Beat the eggs well, stir in milk(s) and vanilla. Soak the bread thoroughly in the milk mixture, turning the slices to coat well.
Mix together sugar, cocoa and cinnamon, and set aside. Heat oil in a frying pan at medium heat until oil is hot, then turn temperature to low. (See note). Fry the slices until they are golden brown. Remove from oil and place on paper towel-lined plate to drain.
While still hot, dredge the toast in cinnamon-sugar mixture and shake off the excess.
Note: Do not overheat oil. The browning process should occur slowly so that the custard-like consistency of bread's interior cooks thoroughly but remains tender.
Makes 12 servings.
If you're serving French toast as a breakfast main course, real maple syrup would probably be better. But if you are serving rabanada as a dessert, then this syrup is the perfect accompaniment. It can also be used for other desserts, such as served over vanilla ice cream.
Port Wine Syrup for Rabanada (Caldo do Vinho Porto)
4 cups (1 liter) water
1 cup (250 ml) good quality dry Port wine
1 stick cinnamon, about 2 inches (5 cm) in length
2/3 cup (150 ml) honey
Combine all the ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Stir well to combine and bring slowly to a boil over medium heat, stirring to dissolve the honey. When it comes to a boil, reduce heat and continue to cook at a slow boil for 10 minutes, or until the syrup has thickened and reduced by one half. Remove from heat and cool to room temperature.