Pecan & Coconut Crusted French Toast with Caramel Sauce
April 1, 2021
There are no rules when it comes to brunch. You can have anything from any other meal and somehow make it fit into the menu: salads, burgers, ice cream, vodka. They all work here. And if you’re in the Wild West of meals anyway, you might as well enjoy some unbounded indulgence. Like this pecan and coconut crusted french toast with caramel sauce, a version of a classic that is truly delectable.
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You know how sometimes you think you want french toast, so you order it when you are out for brunch, but then when you start to dig in, it’s a bit … disappointing? Maybe that’s just me. I just can’t stand it when french toast is dry, bland, or boring. So I put in a few safety nets to make sure no one would every describe this recipe that way.
No, no. This french toast is gooey. It’s decadent and divine and the perfect balance of chewy with just enough crunch. The caramel sauce is sticky sweet, but the pecans and coconut are toasty and bold. All together, it’s the kind of french toast that will make the doubters change their tune. I know I did.
What You Need to Get Started
You can easily find all of the ingredients for this pecan and coconut crusted french toast with caramel at your grocery store:
- Pantry: Sugar, Corn syrup, Toffee bits, Pecans, Shredded coconut, White bread
- Fridge: Heavy cream, Butter, Eggs, Milk
- Spice Rack: Cinnamon
- Equipment: Saucepan, Thermometer, Mixing bowl, Shallow pan, Griddle
How to Make Toffee Caramel Sauce
You are going to want to start this recipe by making the caramel sauce. The caramel will hold onto a lot of its heat, even while set aside for the time it takes to prep and cook the french toast. It will still be great for drizzling over the fresh, warm toast when that’s ready.
If you have never made caramel before, the tricks are to prep everything ahead of time so you can work quickly. Have your heavy cream and butter ready to go at a moment’s notice. And be sure to grab your instant-read candy thermometer.
Combine the sugar, water, and corn syrup in a medium saucepan. The corn syrup helps to keep the caramel from crystallizing, which means a smooth sauce, even when cooled and reheated.
Heat everything on medium-high, stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture just begins bubbling. At that point, you won’t need to stir anymore while it heats up. Instead, switch to your thermometer to check the temperature frequently.
As soon as you see the temperature hit 325°F, turn off heat and immediately add cream and butter. Be very careful when doing this, as the cold cream will cause the hot caramel to bubble and seize. This is totally normal, but avoid getting splashed. Stir it up until it has calmed down and everything is smooth.
Turn the heat back on, and continue cooking the caramel until it comes back up to 230°F. This is the temperature that controls the texture you want your caramel to be at room temperature: in this case, a thick syrup.
Then turn off the heat and stir in the toffee bits. Once these are incorporated into the caramel, transfer it to glass jar or bowl, and leave it uncovered to cool slightly while you prepare the french toast.
Let’s Make Pecan Coconut Crusted French Toast
A good french toast starts with choosing the right bread. In this case, I used half a loaf of a simple homemade white bread from my bread machine. When you are looking for bread in the store, check the bakery section for fresh loaves that are either uncut or cut thick, like Texas toast.
If you are slicing the bread yourself, cut it into slices that are around half to three quarters of an inch thick. If you are using bread from a machine like I did, these will be fairly large pieces, so you will likely only need about one per person. Instead, if you have a more standard sandwich loaf shape, you will likely want two per person.
Set your bread slices on a plate and prepare yourself an assembly line-style work station for creating the french toast. Line up the bread, a flat dish for the egg mixture, a plate for the coconut and pecan coating, and then a clean plate.
Toss together the pecans, coconut, and cinnamon in a small mixing bowl. Then spread a spoonful of this on the designated plate. It’s easier to get evenly coated slices if you add more to the plate as needed for each piece of bread, rather than having it all there at once.
In the shallow, flat pan, whisk together the milk and eggs. I like to use a square, glass casserole dish since I know it’s big enough for the bread and has high enough sides to contain the liquid. However, you can use any dish that you have on hand, like a cake pan or pie tin as well.
Now let’s batter some french toast! Dip a slice of bread into the egg mixture, and let it sit there for about thirty seconds. Flip and let the other side soak as well. Pick up the slice, and gently shake to allow any excess egg to drip off. Then place the eggy piece of bread onto the plate with the pecan mixture.
Flip it around to coat both sides, and use your fingertips to press the nuts and coconut into the bread to adhere. Add a bit more from the bowl onto the plate if needed, keeping in mind how many slices you have left. Then set the coated slice of bread on the clean plate.
Repeat this process of letting the bread soak in the egg and then coating it with the pecan and coconut mixture for each slice. If the pan your egg mixture is in is large enough, you can soak two or more slices at a time to work a bit faster.
Heat a griddle or large frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of oil or pat of butter to the pan until it’s warmed or melted. Lift the pan and swivel it to coat the bottom. Then add in the slices of bread.
Fry these on the first side for a couple minutes until the edges have started to turn a nice golden brown. Then flip, and do the same on the other side. The french toast is ready when any exposed egg appears dry, and the nuts and coconut are lightly browned.
If your loaf of bread was large, cut those slices in half, and then add the servings to their own plates. These are best served immediately, topped with a big scoop of the warm toffee caramel sauce, drizzled over top and dripping down over the edges.
To make this in advance, store the cooked french toast in a sealed container in the fridge for a couple days, and reheat in the microwave. You can also store the caramel sauce in a jar in the fridge for a couple weeks. Warm in the microwave in 15-30 second increments until liquidy enough to drizzle on top.
For a fun twist on this dish, make a loaf of cinnamon praline stuffed challah a few days in advance, and use slices of that bread for your french toast. It’s a game changer for sure.
This pecan and coconut crusted french toast with caramel sauce is sweet and gooey, perfect for brunch!
How to Serve French Toast with Caramel
Center your entire brunch menu around this french toast. Serve it alongside a big fruit salad, drizzled with some honey, and a side of vegan lentil-pecan sausage. And of course, don’t forget the cocktails!
To stick with the rich sweetness that complements this meal, try serving chocolate turtle martinis, which include a caramel and pecan rim. Or for a different flavor profile, mix up a few fun and colorful birthday cake martinis.
If you are looking for something a little bit less heavy, you can go in a fruity direction instead. Try pairing this with a bourbon ginger algonquin or a bright and fresh watermelon daiquiri on the rocks.
Use Up Leftover Ingredients
- If you don’t use all your caramel sauce, drizzle any extra on top of rich and creamy coffee ice cream.
- Extra pecans bake nicely into a treat like peach cobbler sticky buns or rocky road black bean brownies.
- Use up shredded coconut in the filling for some super easy cream puffs.
- As for any bread, try another fun take on french toast with a stuffed bananas foster version.
Pecan-Coconut Crusted French Toast with Toffee Caramel
Toffee Caramel Sauce
- ½ Cup Sugar
- 2 Tbsp Water
- 1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
- ¼ Cup Heavy Cream
- 2 Tbsp Butter
- 2 Tbsp Toffee Bits
Pecan-Coconut Crusted French Toast
- ½ Cup Pecans finely chopped
- ¼ Cup Unsweetened Shredded Coconut
- 1 tsp Cinnamon
- 3 Eggs
- ½ Cup Milk
- 4-8 Slices Thick Cut White Bread 4 if large, 8 if small; about ¾ inch thick
- Butter or oil for pan
Toffee Caramel Sauce
- In a medium saucepan, combine sugar, water, and corn syrup. Heat on medium-high stirring until the sugar has dissolved and the mixture begins bubbling.
- Stop stirring and check the temperature with an instant-read thermometer until it hits 325°F. Then turn off heat and immediately add cream and butter carefully, as this will bubble and seize. Stir until smooth.
- Turn the heat back on, and cook until it reaches 230°F, then turn off heat and transfer to glass jar or bowl.
Pecan-Coconut Crusted French toast
- In a small mixing bowl, toss together the pecans, coconut, and cinnamon in bowl, and then spread a spoonful on a plate. In a shallow, flat pan large enough to hold a slice of bread, whisk together the milk and eggs.
- Dip a slice of bread in the egg mixture, soaking both sides for about 30 seconds. Let the excess drip off, and place eggy bread onto the plate with the pecan mixture. Turn to coat and press to adhere, adding more if needed. Then set aside on a clean plate. Repeat for each slice.
- Heat a griddle or frying pan over medium-high heat. Add a drizzle of oil or pat of butter to the pan until warmed. Fry the toast slices for 2-4 minutes per side until golden brown. They are ready when any exposed egg appears dry, and nuts and coconut are browned.
- Cut any larger bread slices in half, and serve immediately topped with a big scoop of the warm toffee caramel sauce. Store french toast and caramel sauce separately.
- Make ahead tips:
- Store cooked french toast without caramel sauce in a sealed container in the fridge for 2-3 days. Warm in the microwave.
- Store caramel in a jar in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. Warm in the microwave in 15-30 second increments until liquidy.
- I used a simple homemade bread from my bread machine, which I cut into thick slices. This recipe used half of a medium-sized bread machine loaf. If you are looking for bread in the store, check the bakery section for fresh loaves that are either uncut or cut thick. Most packaged loaves are cut too thin.