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A new twist on an old favorite

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck

For all intents and purposes, I am not  a breakfast eater in the true sense of the word. I don’t eat eggs, gravy or grits and those are pretty much the foundation for breakfast–especially in the South.
I do, however, like to eat sometime before noon and of course, my preferences tend to run on the sweet side of things. A doughnut, a Pop Tart or a bagel with strawberry cream cheese all fit the bill nicely to go with my three cups of morning coffee.
However when traveling, those things aren’t usually on any restaurant breakfast menu. While the hubby fills up on eggs, hash browns, gravy, biscuits and an ample side of pork, I migrate toward the pancakes and French toast.
Now French toast is French toast–unless it’s something special.
This past year I’ve had two of the best French toast experiences of my life.
The first was at Leonardo’s 706 in downtown Gainesville.
There, the breakfast toast is made with  thick bread, toasted pecans and bananas.
The next wonderful experience was at Peach Valley Café in Ormond Beach. The toast was stuffed with mascarpone cheese, strawberries and peaches. It was to die for and a vision on the plate.
I’ve come across a recipe that’s easy to make and almost as good as the Peach Valley French toast. After you make this basic filling, feel free to experiment with your favorite fruits.

French Toast Sandwich
4 oz. mascarpone cheese, softened
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. nutmeg
2 T maple syrup
2 T chopped walnuts
1 tsp. butter
1 large apple, diced with skin on
1 egg
1/3 c. 2% milk
8 slices cinnamon raisin bread

Combine mascarpone, cinnamon, nutmeg, maple syrup and walnuts; mix well. Melt butter in small nonstick skillet. Add apples and cook until tender. Remove apples.
Whisk together egg and milk. Dip bread in egg mixture. Cook bread on both sides in nonstick skillet with minimal butter until golden brown.
Spread 1 T mascarpone mixture on one side of each of four slices of bread, top with cooked apples and remaining bread slices.
Cook until apple filling is thoroughly heated. Serve with maple syrup.

Now the bad news: Serves 4. 400 calories per serving (sandwich), 90mg cholesterol, 11g protein, 44g carbs.

But for a once a week treat, you’ll be glad to indulge.