Pear and Sweet Ricotta Breakfast Sandwich

Filled with slices of red Anjou pears, honeyed ricotta cheese, and just a hint of cinnamon and lemon, then dipped in a custard bath and sauteed on the stove top until warm and golden, this sandwich is rich, sweet, and creamy, like a little delectable stuffed French toast.


THE RECIPE


Pear and Sweet Ricotta Breakfast Sandwich

Don’t forget to check out my Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions at the bottom of the recipe.

Ingredients

Sweet Ricotta

  • 1/2 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
  • 1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp lemon zest
  • honey

Sandwiches

  • 4 slices multigrain bread
  • 1 red Anjou pear, sliced about 1/4-inch thick

Custard Bath

  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of salt

Pan Preparation

  • 1 tbsp unsalted butter

Topping

  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 tsp confectioner’s sugar

Directions

  1. Put together your sweet cheese spread by mixing the ricotta, cinnamon, lemon zest, and honey (to taste) in a small bowl. I’d start out with a teaspoon or so of honey and continue adding until it’s sweetened to your liking.
  2. Spread a thick layer of the sweetened ricotta on two slices of the bread.
  3. Arrange the pear slices in two layers on top of the ricotta.
  4. Top with the remaining two pieces of bread, forming two sandwiches.
  5. In a large, shallow bowl, whisk together the eggs, milk, vanilla, cinnamon, and salt until well-blended.
  6. Soak each sandwich in the egg mixture for a minute or two until the bread is just saturated.
  7. In the meantime, melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  8. Place the sandwiches in the pan and cook until the bottoms are golden, 2 to 3 minutes.
  9. Flip the sandwiches and press them with the spatula or place a panini press (or heavy pan, if you don’t have one) on top and cook until crisp and golden, another 2 to 3 minutes.
  10. Cut each sandwich into quarters and serve warm with a drizzle of honey and dusting of confectioner’s sugar.

Tips, Tricks, and Substitutions

Honey: Feel free to replace with your preferred liquid sweetener, such as agave nectar or maple syrup.

Multigrain Bread: Honestly, use whatever bread you like, but make sure it’s dense enough that soaking up the custard isn’t going to turn the bread to mush.

Red Anjou Pear: Use any pear you like, but red Anjous are smooth and dense, so go well with this sandwich. Other pears are softer, some more crisp, but they’ll all taste good!

Whole Milk: Technically, use whatever milk you like, even a milk alternative. The richness may change depending on fat content, but you may not even notice. I always recommend whole milks, though.

Cinnamon: Feel free to play around with spices here. Any warm spice that makes you think of dessert would work well, such as cardamom or nutmeg.


THE STORY


I’ve never been a fan of French toast. It’s just a bit too eggy, dense, and boring to me. It actually makes me feel a bit sick to think about! Egg-covered bread with pancake syrup on top…ugh. But that’s not to say that I don’t love certain varying takes on the French toast concept…

First, I discovered my love for baked French toast. I almost don’t see a reason to eat it any other way. I suppose it’s really just bread pudding, but the ingredients are the same as a traditional French toast, you simply bake it instead! And cube the bread rather than using slices. Wow, is it good! My best friend’s mom makes it pretty much every time we go to their cottage up north. The first time I ate it, I was only being polite; I was actually half horrified that I was going to be eating that eggy nonsense. But when I put that first bite in my mouth…oh my goodness. I could have eaten the entire pan! In fact, I’m starting to crave it right now. Too bad I don’t have the ingredients on hand since I just used up all of our bread for French toast sandwiches this morning.

Now, French toast sandwiches are cooked in a more traditional manner. In fact, it’s really just stuffed French toast and it’s wonderful. Basically, you just make a little breakfast sandwich, dunk it in the same custard bath that you would plain French toast, and then cook it on the stove top. It’s as simple as that! And the options for fillings are endless. Bananas, slightly crushed berries, apples, stone fruits, any spread you can think of (nutella, peanut butter, hazelnut, fruit jam), I bet you could even make a savory version!

This morning’s choice was red pears with sweetened ricotta. It was so good. So, so, so good! G. devoured her portion, which wasn’t a sandwich, at all, but roasted pear slices topped with the ricotta cheese. Same wonderful flavors, but a little more toddler-friendly 🙂

That’s something I love about cooking for my family. I can take any adult dish and make just a few adjustments to turn it into something a child can easily eat. When G. was only able to eat even chunky purees, all I had to do was mince our dinner up or throw it in the food processor for a few quick pulses and, voila, a “Stage 3” meal. I’ve actually often done the opposite too. One of my favorite baby food cookbooks is Tyler Florence’s Start Fresh: Your Child’s Jump Start to Lifelong Healthy Eating, not only because I agree with his take on how children and families should eat, but because the recipes are just so great! “Baked Apples and Barley,” “Cauliflower Gratin,” “Maple Roasted Pork Chops with Butternut Squash and Beets,” “Ginger Chicken with Coconut.” These are meals for babies! He’s the one who gave me the idea for turning adult meals into baby-friendly ones and vice versa. So, I’ll look at some wonderful puree recipes and simply stop before getting to the puree and suddenly I have a really delicious adult meal that was actually intended for a child. I feel like that may sound a little crazy, but I swear the recipes are appropriate for everyone!

This book is also where I came up with the idea for the pear and ricotta French toast sandwich. Tyler has a recipe for “Roasted Red Pears with Ricotta,” as well as “Banana Breakfast Sandwiches,” so I, essentially, just combined the two! And I’m so glad that I did 🙂

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