Creme Brulee French Toast

Crème Brûlée French Toast

½ cup butter
2/3 cup brown sugar
3 tablespoons maple syrup
12 1 ½ inch slices challah bread (crusts trimmed)
6 eggs
1 cup half and half or whole milk
2 teaspoons vanilla
¼ teaspoon salt
¼ cup orange juice
½ cup sugar
Strawberries and cream (optional for topping)

Preheat oven to 350°.  Butter baking dish. 

Melt first 3 ingredients in saucepan, just until mixture begins to boil and turn brown, like caramel.  Pour into buttered 9 x 9 baking dish.  Arrange bread evenly over caramel.  Whisk next 6 ingredients (eggs through sugar) and pour over bread.  Let bread soak for 5 to 10 minutes.  Bake for 35 minutes.  Serve with strawberries and cream. 

Notes: I use fat free milk and it turns out great. I also don't cut off the crusts. I have used other french breads when I can't find Challah. This recipe calls for a 9 x 9 dish, but I always use a 9 x 13. A whole loaf of Challah fits it perfectly. If you use the smaller dish, you will probably have a more custardy effect. I'll have to try that some time. This way, it comes out dry on top with the glaze on the bottom. You don't really need syrup, either. YUM!