This is one of several western dishes that my mother made for us kids. Instead of drowning our French Toast in syrup, she would sprinkle coarse demerara sugar on the bread, so as it cooked on the grill, the sugar caramelized and pooled creating a sticky, sweet and crunchy built in coating that we found addictive. I use vanilla paste in this recipe as I feel it provides a gentler, richer vanilla flavor than vanilla extract. For an extra special touch, pulse some sugar cubes with lemon zest in your food processor and sprinkle over the French Toast before serving.
12 large eggs
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1 teaspoon of vanilla bean paste or 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
1 stick unsalted butter, melted
1 loaf day-old brioche or challah bread sliced 3/4-inch thick (about 8 to 10 slices)
3/4 cup demerara sugar
Whisk the eggs, cream, sugar, vanilla bean paste or extract, cardamom and salt together in a large bowl.
Pool a little melted butter onto serving platter or plates (the melted butter prevents the caramelized sugar from sticking to the plates) and set aside. Heat a griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Submerge one slice of bread in egg mixture, turning the bread over to coat, and letting it get to the same softness as that of a wet sponge. Drizzle a little melted butter on the griddle, turn heat down to medium and place soaked bread on griddle. Sprinkle 2 teaspoons of sugar in an even layer on top of bread. Once bottom side is browned, flip over and sprinkle 2 teaspoons sugar over top. Once bottom is browned, flip again and wait until the sugar is browned, before transferring to a platter or individual plate. Repeat with remaining bread slices and serve.