Sweet Talk: A Treat-Yourself Recipe from Half Baked Harvest

January 24, 2018

The late, great Julia Child once said, “Everything in moderation…including moderation.”

If you’ve been sticking to your healthy new year’s resolutions, consider this your expert endorsement for a day off. Need more convincing? Some studies show that a temporary, planned lapse in your dieting routine (aka a “cheat day”) can actually help you achieve your long-term goals.

Lucky for us, Tieghan Gerard of the blog and cookbook Half Baked Harvest knows a thing or two about indulgences. We’ve long loved her decadent recipes with a unique, seasonal spin, so with January just about done, we turned to her for a little treat.

Tieghan’s foray into from-the-heart comfort food began as a young teen. As one of seven children, she started cooking dinner to give her parents a much-needed break. “In time, I just took over all the cooking for my family,” she says. “I loved it—I loved seeing my brothers’ reactions and everyone’s love for my food.”

Now 24, Tieghan lives in a renovated horse barn in the mountains of Colorado, and her family still inspires much of her cooking. “Three of my brothers travel all over the world, and they’re always sending me photos and menus from places like Morocco and France,” she says.

As for balance, Tieghan says she tries to adhere to the 80/20 rule—that’s eat healthy 80% of the time, and have a little fun with the other 20%. “I’m a believer in eating colorful foods and veggies, but I definitely have a sweet tooth,” she says. “Life is about experiencing things, and if you love something, then don’t cut it out entirely.”

“Right now, I’m really into cooking brunch. And drinks. And pasta,” she adds. “But more than anything, I love cooking for people. I love seeing the reaction on a person’s face—when they roll their eyes back and say, ‘This is really good.’”

Here, she shares three of her favorite crowd-pleasing recipes.

PEANUT BUTTER FRENCH TOAST 

Attention PB-lovers, this one’s for you. “This French toast is super over-the-top, but it’s fun,” says Tieghan. “Top it off with cinnamon whipped cream, maple syrup, fresh berries, and more butter, of course.”

Serves 8

What You’ll Need
For the cinnamon whipped cream:
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioners’ sugar or pure maple syrup
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

For the toast:
1 loaf brioche, cut into sixteen ½-inch-thick slices
½ cup creamy peanut butter
4 large eggs
1½ cups whole milk
3 tablespoons bourbon (optional)
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
½ teaspoon flaky sea salt
3 cups crushed cornflakes
1 cup sliced almonds
Butter, for the pan, plus more for serving
Confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and fresh berries, for serving

How To Make It
Cinnamon whipped cream:
In a large bowl using a handheld mixer, whip the cream until it holds soft peaks. Add the sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla, then whip until combined.

French toast:
Spread half the brioche slices with peanut butter, using about 1 tablespoon for each, then top them with the remaining slices to make peanut butter sandwiches.

In a shallow medium bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, bourbon (if using), vanilla, and salt until combined. In a separate shallow medium bowl, stir together the cornflakes and almonds.

Working with one at a time, dip the sandwiches into the egg mixture, allowing them to soak on each side for 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the egg mixture, allowing any excess to drip back into the bowl, then dredge in the cornflake-almond mixture, pressing gently to adhere.

Heat a large skillet or griddle over medium and coat generously with butter. When the butter has melted, cook the French toast in batches until golden and crisp, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Remove and serve immediately with butter, the cinnamon whipped cream, confectioners’ sugar, maple syrup, and fresh berries.

Have a sweet tooth? Shop cookwarebakeware, and the “Half Baked Harvest” cookbook