Fluffy French Toast with Candied Nuts is the perfect holiday brunch item. Thick slices of bread are coated in a cinnamon-laced custard, topped with a sweet and salty mix of candied nuts, and then smothered in pure maple syrup. Easy and delicious!
Thanks to our friends at Mariani nuts for sponsoring this post!
Fluffy French Toast with Candied Nuts
When cinnamon-laced fluffy French toast meets sweet and salty candied nuts, it’s a very good brunch day.
Here’s a more in depth depiction of what’s happening:
- Thick slices of pre-made ciabatta bread
- A rich (dairy-free!) custard made with Mariani Walnutmilk, plenty of cinnamon, a hint of nutmeg, and of course, plenty of vanilla.
- Aforementioned bread soaked in custard and cooked until crisp, golden brown and delicious.
- Piles of candied walnuts and slivered almonds dusted in an intoxicating mix of ginger, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, and plenty of salt.
- The candied nuts adorning the crispy fluffy French toast and then topped off with as much pure maple syrup as your heart desires.
While this slightly elevated take on French toast may seem like it took a whole lot of extra effort, your intuition has deceived you. Because this fluffy French toast, is not only a cinch to whip up, but the real star – the candied nuts – can be made days in advance.
Hello, Christmas morning breakfast!
Candied walnuts and almonds
First thing’s first. Let’s talk about these insanely delicious candied nuts which are the crowning glory of our fluffy French toast.
I’m not really a sweets girl, but I absolutely love the combination of sweet and salty. For me, it’s the perfect balance of savory and sweet, and pretty much the only way I like to eat sweet breakfast or desserts. (I even top my pancakes with flakes of Maldon salt.)
Candied nuts are slightly sweet, but not cloyingly so, and have the perfect hint of salt alongside the spicy ground ginger, warm cinnamon, and nutmeg.
Ingredients in candied nuts
Mariani walnuts and almonds.
We are in love with all the Mariani nut products. If you’re not familiar with their company, it’s a family-run business that happens to be one of the largest privately-owned nut processors in the world. They’re obviously well-
established throughout the US, but I LOVE that they are still completely
A nut is not just a nut, Mariani nuts are taken through several grading processes, which means, you always get a superior product, which is exactly why they call it premium. Also, all of their nuts are only grown in optimal environmental conditions and monitored from start to finish by the growers, ensuring only the best end product. And it shows.
Today we’re using their shelled walnuts and slivered almonds, which I find to be the perfect duo in a candied nut combination. (Plus they’re great for snacking while you make them.)
Egg whites are what give candied nuts that crispy, crunch exterior. Use large egg whites.
I like to use a combination of white sugar and brown sugar. For me, brown sugar has a bit more depth of flavor that pairs really well with nuts and cinnamon.
For me, the perfect combination of spices that just feels like winter time are ground ginger for a little bit of a kick, cinnamon, nutmeg, and allspice, for a little bit of warmth. Oh, and plenty of salt for that sweet and salty kick.
How to make candied nuts
Whip egg whites. The first thing you need to do is whisk the egg whites until they form medium peaks. (See the photo for reference.) I never use my hand mixer for this, because it’s super easy to do by hand. Use a large whisk, and stir briskly until the egg whites start to froth.
Continue to whisk them as fast as your can until they form peaks. For me, it takes about three minutes, but it may take you a little bit longer. Add the vanilla and a little bit of water and beat another minute.
Add the nuts. Toss the nuts in the egg whites until completely coated.
Make the sugar coating. Add the white sugar, brown sugar, ginger, cinnamon, all spice, nutmeg, and salt to another bowl. Whisk to combine. Add the sugar mixture a little bit at a time, while stirring the nuts mixture. Stir until evenly coated.
Bake the nuts. It’s super important to cook the nuts at a low temperature or they will burn. I like to keep mine at 300 degrees and stir every 15 minutes for the first 30 minutes and then every 10 minutes for the last 45 minutes to an hour. They’re ready when they are golden brown and starting to crisp up.
Keep in mind, they will crisp up even more as they cool. Cool completely and store in an airtight container until you’re ready to use.
Ingredients in Fluffy French Toast
Brioche or Texas toast. If you’re wanting to stick with dairy-free, opt for thick Texas toast-style bread, a hearty white bread, or ciabatta. I like to slice the bread about one to one and half inches thick. It’s also best to use day-old bread that’s a little bit dry.
If you don’t remember to leave it out the night before, just pop the freshly sliced bread into a 300-degree oven for about eight minutes and cool.
Walnut milk. I like to cut dairy out when I can, and ever since I tried Mariani’s Walnutmilk a few months back, I’ve been using it in my coffee, smoothies, and today, in French toast. It adds a richness you don’t get with dairy milk, but has less calories and fat. I also love that it comes pre-flavored with vanilla, a flavor we reinforce a little bit later.
Eggs. Eggs are essential to a classic French toast recipe. They give the custard the sturdiness it needs, and makes it super light and fluffy.
Flavorings. Vanilla, cinnamon, and just a touch of nutmeg is all you need. All flavors echoed in the crispy candied topping.
How to make fluffy French toast
Make the custard. This is as easy as whisking the walnut milk, eggs, cinnamon, nutmeg, and vanilla together. Done.
Soak the bread. If you’ve used day-old bread, you should be able to let the bread soak in the custard for about 30 seconds on each side. You really want the egg custard mixture to spread through the entire slice.
Cook the French toast. I like to use a a large griddle I fit over my stove. I brush the whole griddle with about a tablespoons of coconut oil and then gently cook the fluffy French toast over a medium flame until both sides are golden brown and the inside is cooked through. It should take about 3-4 minutes per side.
Assemble. Once all the fluffy French toast is cooked, stack them on plates, sprinkle them with candied nuts, and drizzle with maple syrup.
Can fluffy French toast be made in advance?
The nuts can absolutely be made in advance, however, I wouldn’t recommend making the French toast in advance. French toast has a tendency to get soggy after cooking. Plus you won’t have that crisp exterior if you were to reheat it.
If you don’t mind it getting a little bit soft, then by all means go for it. My boys both had two pieces re-heated in the microwave the next day, and they were none the wiser. Although, they are three and one, so take that into consideration.
Can I serve the candied nuts as is?
Please do! This makes A LOT of candied nuts, so you will probably have leftovers. They are great to serve as a snack, and would be the perfect addition to a cheeseboard.
Where can I find Mariani nuts?
You can order from their website, but they are primarily carried throughout Sprouts. Also, just check out your local grocery store, they’re most likely there!
Can I cook the French toast in butter?
Yes, of course you can. You can use whatever fat you want to cook the French toast in. I just like to use coconut oil to stick to a dairy-free recipe. If you don’t have coconut oil on hand, you can use olive oil, butter, ghee, peanut oil or avocado oil.
Substitutions and Tips and Tricks for Recipe Success
- Make sure to use day-old bread for French toast, otherwise, it could turn mushy pretty fast when soaking in the custard. If you don’t have day-old bread, slice bread and then dry out in a 300-degree oven for about 10 minutes.
- Don’t soak the bread too long. You want the custard to soak up the whole piece, but once it feels like it’s adequately soaked, pull it out to cook.
- Be sure to stir the nuts frequently and be sure to watch them carefully. Nuts can burn easily and when you add sugar to it, it can happen even faster. Stirring them every few minutes ensures they don’t burn and cook evenly.
- Use good quality maple syrup. There is nothing that ruins a batch of French toast or pancakes more than using inferior syrup. Buy the real 100% pure maple syrup.
- 1 egg white
- 2 tsp water
- 2 tsp vanilla extract, divided
- 1 cup almonds slivered Mariani almonds
- 2 cups cups shelled Mariani walnuts
- 1/2 cup white sugar
- 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp ground cloves
- 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg, divided
- 1/4 tsp ground ginger
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon, divided
- 1/2 tsp kosher salt
- 8 thick slices day-oldtexas toast, french toast or ciabatta (cut 1- 1/2 inches thick)
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup Mariani vanilla walnutmilk
- 2 tbsp coconut oil
- Mixing bowl
- Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.
- Add water and egg white to a medium bowl. Use a large whisk to beat the egg white until medium peaks form. This should take about 3-4 minutes. Once the peaks form, add nuts and gently fold into the egg white mixture.
- In another bowl, whisk together sugar, brown sugar, 1/4 tsp cloves, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, ginger, and 1/2 tsp salt. While stirring, slowly add the sugar mixture to the nuts. Once they are evenly coated, spread on the prepared baking sheet. Place in the oven. Stir every 15 minutes for the first half hour. After the first half hour, stir every 10 minutes, breaking up the nuts with a spatula or wooden spoon. The nuts are done when they are golden brown and starting to crisp up. It should take 50 minutes to an hour.
- Cool the nuts. Use your hands or a spoon to make sure the nuts don't stick together. If using later, store in an airtight container until you're ready to use.
- If your bread isn't dried out a little bit from being a day old, place in the 300 degree oven for about 10 minutes to dry out a bit.
- Add eggs, walnutmilk, remaining vanilla, cinnamon, and nutmeg to a shallow dish. Whisk to combine.
- Heat a large griddle or skillet to a medium heat. Add one tablespoon of coconut oil. Brush to coat. Soak pieces of bread in the custard for about 20-30 seconds per side or until the bread is saturated. Cook on the griddle or pan, four at a time, until golden brown on both sides and cooked through, about 3-4 minutes per side. Repeat with remaining four pieces of bread.
- When ready to serve, spoon a generous helping of the candied nuts on top of the french toast. Top with your favorite maple syrup.