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Vanilla Chai-Infused French Toast; or, One of the Best Ideas I've Ever Had

Friends, Readers, Countrymen/women -- I am today going to share with you one of the best ideas I ever had in the kitchen: How to make Vanilla Chai Tea-Infused French toast.

This is what happens when I cook/take pictures in a well-lit kitchen! Not bad, huh?

BUT FIRST: Did you know my friend Daphne has an awesome kosher food blog (or rather, is the food editor of a fantastic all-things-Jewish-parenting site) called Challah Crumbs? No? Well YOU DO NOW. You should a) check it out, then b) VOTE FOR Daphne/Challah Crumbs as one of the best kosher food blogs on the web!

Ok. The genesis for my vanilla chai french toast, as with so much of what I cook, may be found in my haphazard approach to dish development and my poor memory. As they say, it's better to be lucky than good -- and now and again I get to be both.

Some months back I was set on making brunch for Jen and her family, and as I was deciding what to whip up, I thought to myself, "How about that awesome thingy I ate at Open City?" which is a pretty super little restaurant/diner not far from my home in Washington. While I've only been for brunch, the place offers a large menu with a diverse array of options, including creative twists on classics -- such as their chai tea waffle.

(The adventure continues after the break!) 

*For folks who don't know, what we in the West call chai is a mixed-spice tea (masala chai in India), often with milk, almost always with ginger and cardamom, and generally with other "warm" spices such as cinnamon and anise.*

As I started to collect ingredients for brunch, I successfully remembered the chai tea part, but wasn't able to recall whether the "thingy" had been a waffle, a pancake, or french toast. So, I settled on french toast (that being the thing I wanted to eat, and I didn't have a waffle iron). I had to fake the recipe, since I neither made french toast often nor did I know how to make it taste like chai...BUT IT WAS DELICIOUS. Like, woah.

Ok, maybe I needed to beat the eggs a tad more.

In case I still need to sell you on this dish, here are three reasons to make these:

  1. You'll win brunch -- this french toast tastes much more complex and intricate than it is to make.
  2. Accordingly -- they're easy. You only need to add an extra step or two to a classic french toast recipe.
  3. They taste awesome. Buttery, spicy, and sweet; but never heavy or saccharine.

I made them again last weekend for my family, and managed to improve on the original AND take some pictures. So here, dear friends, is how to make 'em:


Vanilla Chai Tea-Infused French Toast

6 slices of bread, halved. Any bread will do, but better if the bread has gone a little stale as the dryer slices will better absorb the batter (I read somewhere that the origin of french toast was as a way for poor people to make use of stale bread). Thicker slices are preferable, too, but work with what you have.

2/3 cup of whole milk (I'm sure 2 percent works too.)

2 tea bags of your favorite chai tea (I used Stash's double-spice black chai tea, but only because that's what my mom had on hand.)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract (C'mon, use the good stuff.)

A pinch of salt

3 large eggs

1-2 Tablespoon butter (salted or unsalted) 

Directions: In a Pyrex measuring cup, microwave the milk on medium for 45 seconds or until quite hot to the touch. Steep the tea bags five minutes (you can't really overdo it).


As you can see, the milk will get a little...brownish. Don't worry about it. When you're done steeping squeeze out any remaining milk from the bags and stir in the salt and vanilla.

Meanwhile! Beat the eggs, then combine the milk mixture. Blend well. Working with one or two slices at a time, dunk the bread in the mixture. The goal here is to allow the bread to sponge up as much of the mixture as possible (don't forget to flip them!), hence why stale bread works so well. If you're using thick slices, this will take longer. You'll know each slice is ready when it's close to soggy but not mushy -- I know, super descriptive, right?


Next, melt the butter over medium in a large non-stick frying pan. Once the butter's stopped bubbling, fry the slices until the batter is fully cooked in the inside of the bread, about 3-4 minutes a side (this will vary, though, so stay on top of things. Add more butter if need be.

Finally, Serve with maple syrup (FYI -- Log Cabin and Mrs. Butterworth's DO NOT COUNT) and enjoy!





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Reader Comments (7)

Stuffed with a tangerine and all-spice infused creme cheese? I may have to try my variation on this great idea.

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMolz

You BRILLIANT boy. This weekend, mayhaps...

December 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSam Lehman

I am going to make this tomorrow for a Holiday bfast! xoxo

January 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJulie Simon Loftsgaarden

Mmmm, I'm" rel="nofollow">always making french toast but just the same old recipe. I can't wait to try this twist! I like the origin tidbit too! lol

January 10, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

My son would love it.Going to try today itself.

February 28, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarpet cleaners sydney

I've dubbed this recipe as grown-up French toast. So good, such great flavor, even if I didn't use top of the line ingredients . . . eek! : )

March 26, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLaura

Trying this with my homemade cinnamon bread tomorrow, should be fantastic :)

October 27, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterSteph

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