When planning my holiday menus, I like to serve new dishes, but still not spend the entire day slaving away in the kitchen. This year, I'm preparing a herb-crusted rib roast with potato latkes, whole roasted spiced cauliflower, garlic cheesy pull-apart bread, honey mustard Brussels sprouts, and, for the perfect ending, caramelized torrija. Caramelized torrijais a dessert that is served at the one and only Degustation in New York. Now, I've never actually dined at this restaurant, but I saw a snippet of what they serve on the Food Network and instantly became curious about this dessert. After giving it a try, boy am I glad I did because it is de-licious! Easy to prepare and sure to be a crowd-pleaser, a win-win in my book.
- 200 grams brioche
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 cup coconut milk
- peel of ½ grapefruit
- peel of 1 lime
- peel of 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon butter
- ¼ cup granulated sugar divided
- Cut brioche in 2-inch blocks. Place the brioche in a casserole, baking dish or deep container. Sprinkle grapefruit, lime, and lemon peel and pour cream and coconut milk into the dish. Let bread marinate overnight in the refrigerator, flipping the bread once halfway through.
- Heat 1 tablespoon butter in a nonstick saute pan over medium heat. Remove bread from marinade, discarding liquids and fruit peels. Sprinkle half the sugar on the brioche and place the bread on the pan. Brown the bread on all sides until golden. Remove from heat.
- Sprinkle remaining sugar on the bread. Use a blow torch to carefully caramelize the brioche. Alternatively, preheat broiler to medium. Place bread in the broiler and cook until sugars have melted and caramelized, about 1-2 minutes. Be sure to keep an eye on the bread to make sure it doesn't burn. Serve immediately.
**Helpful tips and common mistakes
Caramelized torrija is essentially french toast. For both french toast and the torrija, you have to soak the bread in a milk mixture and cook on the pan. With the dessert, you go one step further and caramelize the bread either with a blow torch or under the broiler.
If I recall correctly, Degustation uses heavy cream to soak the brioche, but I decided to use a mixture of coconut milk and heavy cream. Do not use more liquid than stated in the recipe. I've tested it making one batch with the amount listed and another with enough liquid to completely cover the bread. The batch with more liquid ended up being too soggy and didn't hold together as well when cooked.
When the recipe lists "peel of grapefruit, lemon, and lime," it means just that. Use a peeler, not a zester, and peel the fruits. Usually, recipes call for the zest of a lemon, but this time we want the actual peel.
After the bread has marinated, sprinkle it with sugar and pan-fry until golden brown. Keep the flames on medium-low to prevent the bread from burning. If the pan is too dry, you can add a little bit of butter; however, I found that the heavy cream alone helped it brown beautifully.
Finish the brioche by caramelizing the tops with a blow torch. If you don't have one, you can use your broiler instead. Just make sure to keep a close eye on the brioche so that the sugar doesn't burn.
Bite into the caramelized torrija while warm and try not to eat the whole batch! The outside is a little crunchy from the caramelized sugar while the inside is oh so creamy. The coconut and citrus flavor is faint but present. These are best served fresh but can still be enjoyed the next day heated up. I can't wait to show these off to my family with a little side of ice cream!
For more sweet bread dessert inspiration check out these Corner Bakery's sweet crisps!