Let’s talk about my Valentine’s Day history…
Did my young heart still skip a beat when I got a certain Spiderman valentine from a certain boy with JTT hair in my class? Yes. Did I get sick to my stomach eating grape-flavored Nerds that night? Also yes.
In middle and high school, Valentine’s Day was also Carnation Day. A few weeks ahead of V-Day, you could purchase carnations from the Senior class fundraiser to give to all your friends and lovers…pink was for friendship, red for love, and white for secret admirers.
Then all day on the 14th, those seniors would interrupt class by opening the door and entering with a handful of carnations.
We would all I would hold my breath, seeing the red one and hoping it was from that one guy I’d been crushing on but knowing realistically that it was probably from my mom. Or, I’d receive a white one, and look suspiciously around the room at my friends to see which one was snickering behind their hand at the genius of their practical joke.
Throughout college, I barely remembered there was a Valentine’s Day until that one year that I helped a guy that I liked make dinner for a girl that he liked. Yeah, that happened.
But not so much. I think once or twice, early on, we got each other gifts…and now sometimes cards…but mostly, we just treat ourselves to a good meal and a glass of red wine, whether out or at home.
So, I’m definitely not a Valentine’s Day hater (otherwise known as a proponent of Anna Howard Shaw Day)….and I do look forward to telling my kids that I love them on Valentine’s Day in fun ways like this and with breakfasts like this one.
First of all, what’s cuter than heart-shaped French toast? Puppies? Maybe. But not by much. And second, have you made baked French toast? It couldn’t be easier.
Bread cut into hearts and an eggy French toast mixture have a slumber party in your fridge, and then you bake up a pan of Valentine’s greatness in about 30 minutes the next morning that will have you getting those red roses for sure…or hopefully at least a hug from one of the consumers.
(recipe adapted from Sweet Paul Magazine )
(serves about 3, easily doubled)
Use your heart-shaped cookie cutter to make heart-shaped French toast: assembled the night before and baked the next day for a fun Valentine's day treat. I adapted the original recipe by omitting apricot jam, lessening the white sugar, and adding vanilla, cinnamon, brown sugar, and salt. I also lowered the baking temperature and added some more time to bake because I found that 375* cooked the French toast unevenly.
app. 1 tsp. butter for greasing the pan
20 slices sturdy white bread (like sourdough or peasant)
1 1/2 c. milk
1/4 c. sugar
1/8 c. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
heart-shaped cookie cutter
maple syrup, butter, and powdered sugar for serving
Grease an oven-safe pan thoroughly with butter. (I recommend using a metal pan so it can go straight from the fridge into the oven.)
Cut out the heart shapes from the bread slices and stack them upright against one another in the pan until the pan is full. (You can freeze any unused bread scraps and later toast them to make croutons!).
In a medium bowl, lightly beat the eggs, then whisk in the milk, both sugars, vanilla extract, cinnamon, and salt until well-combined. Pour mixture over the bread hearts evenly, allowing the mixture to get between the hearts and coat them thoroughly.
Cover carefully and refrigerate overnight.
The next morning, preheat your oven to 350*. While it preheats, take the pan out of the fridge and let warm up a bit.
Uncover pan and bake for 30 minutes. At that point, check every 5 minutes to see if your hearts are golden/slightly brown. If the tops of your hearts start to get too brown but the bottoms are still too mushy for your liking, cover loosely with foil and continue to bake. The whole baking time should take no longer than 50 minutes, but it can really vary depending on your oven and how cold the pan is when you put it in.
Serve immediately with toppings of your choice: maple syrup, butter, powdered sugar.