Bread · Breakfast

Crème Brulée French Toast

Want to wow your Mom on Mothers Day? Make her some Crème Brulee French Toast. It’s the perfect balance between caramel and custard flavors. Top with whipped cream and strawberries for an elegant breakfast mom won’t forget.

A fork holds a bite of creme brulee french toast up close. The moist, golden french toast has a caramelized bottom and a small amount of whipped cream on the other side. The slice of french toast is out of focus in the background. The background is red and the words "creme brulee French toast" are in white italicized writing at the top

Crème Brulee is one of my favorite desserts. I love the contrast between the crunchy caramelized sugar on top and the creamy rich vanilla custard on the bottom. A good crème brulee has the right balance of both.

One of my favorite Austin restaurants, Chez Zee, has found a way to combine these two flavors in french toast. And let me tell you, their Crème Brulee French Toast is to….die… for.

A slice of creme brulee french toast sits on a white plate with a fork behind. To the left is a small dollop of whipped cream with sliced strawberries. The top and bottom of the slice are caramelized and the center is moist custard orange.

Most people know Chez Zee for their amazing desserts – they have great cakes, cheesecakes and pastries – but their best kept secret is breakfast. Compared to their desserts, the crème brulee french toast is not much to look at.

It looks like a large wedge of plain cake drizzled with syrup and served with whipped cream and strawberries on the side. Looks can be deceiving-  the flavor is unforgettably good.

The chef once told me they prepare their crème brulee french toast the night before but that was his only clue about how they make it. With Mother’s day coming up, I’ve been dreaming of the breakfast I wish my kids would make me. You know, the one that tastes great but miraculously leaves no mess in the kitchen.

Since I’m in Cambodia, there’s no going to Chez Zee so I’ve been experimenting with my own version of their Crème Brulee French Toast.

Challah bread is great for making french toast. If you haven’t tried it, it’s similar to Brioche but more eggy. When I was a kid, there was a Jewish bakery in my neighborhood so we always had fresh challah and bagels.

I haven’t seen challah bread in Phnom Penh so I used RecipeGirl’s Sweet Challah Bread for this recipe. It makes a HUGE loaf so you’ll only need half (if that).

For my first attempt, I baked my challah in an angelfood pan so I could slice it in wedges. I made a crème brulee custard but substituted brown sugar for the white sugar to give it more of a caramel flavor.

After soaking the wedges overnight and pan frying them, the result was underwhelming. It tasted just like regular french toast but a bit richer.

For round 2, I decided wedges were too difficult so I made a regular loaf of challah and cut thick straight slices (about 1.5″ thick). I made caramelized sugar in a saucepan and then used that to flavor the custard.

Since I’m the kind of mom that doesn’t like to stare at a saucepan too long, I added my scalding milk/cream to the caramelized sugar, stirred as much as I could and then let it sit to cool while the rest of the sugar dissolved. I reheated it gently to dissolve the last few chunks of carmelized sugar.

The reason you soak overnight is because the slices are thick. If you want so shorten the process, use thinner slices of challah but it is nice to wake up to french toast that’s ready to go in the frying pan.

To get the final crispy outer layer, I dredged both sides of my slices in brown sugar before frying them in butter. The flavor is amazing! No need for syrup but absolutely fabulous with whipped cream and berries.

Yield: 6 servings

Crème Brulee French Toast

Prep Time 30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Additional Time 12 hours
Total Time 12 hours 50 minutes


  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tablespoons water
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 egg yolks
  • 1 egg
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 6 thick slices of challah bread (1½ inches thick)
  • ½ cup dark brown sugar
  • unsalted butter


    1. In a heavy-bottom, 2 quart saucepan over low to medium-low heat, combine sugar and water. Cook, stirring constantly but slowly with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, until sugar turns into a clear liquid (about 8-10 minutes). After sugar dissolves and syrup is simmering, cook for approximately 8 to 10 minutes stirring gently until sugar turns a light caramel color. It’s OK if there are lumps in it. They will dissolve. Take sugar off the heat and continue stirring until all lumps disappear and sugar is a medium brown caramel color. The heat from your pan will continue cooking the sugar.
    2. Put cream and milk in a microwave proof dish and scald in the microwave (cook on high for about 2 minutes). Pour scalding milk/cream into the caramelized sugar. It will harden so stir as much as you can before it does and try to get as much off the bottom of the pan as possible. Let sit for 30 minutes to help the caramelized sugar dissolve in the milk. You can heat on low to help get caramelized sugar off the bottom of the pan and/or to speed up the dissolving process but do this on the lowest setting on your stove. When all the caramelized sugar is dissolved, let cool to room temperature.
    3. Whisk egg yolks, egg and vanilla into milk mixture.
    4. Place bread slices in a flat dish. Ladle custard mixture over the slices. Let soak in and repeat. Turn slices over and repeat on the other side. Cover and refrigerate overnight. (Slices can be frozen for later use at this point.)
    5. Put brown sugar in a flat dish and remove lumps. Put one slice of the french toast face down on the brown sugar and then turn over to coat the other side. Repeat with all the slices.
    6. On medium heat, melt enough butter in a frying pan to coat the bottom. Fry the french toast slices in the butter until the brown sugar caramelizes (2-3 minutes per side depending on your stove).
    7. Serve warm with whipped cream and berries.

Nutrition Information:



Serving Size:


Amount Per Serving: Calories: 529Total Fat: 24gSaturated Fat: 13gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 9gCholesterol: 228mgSodium: 203mgCarbohydrates: 71gFiber: 1gSugar: 52gProtein: 9g

Nutrition information is provided as a guide only. Please consult a dietician for specific dietary needs.

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