Staring into a bouquet of sweet-scented lavender and a pile of ripe grapefruits on the kitchen table, my mind wandered to all the ways one might combine these two gifts grown by friends. I settled on an experiment with French toast stuffed with lavender-mascarpone cream, fried until golden, and served with a burst of grapefruit-ginger compote. After a cautious first bite – would this marriage of flavors succeed? – I sighed in delight. Complex yet comforting, it made for a truly special weekend breakfast.
French toast 1/2 cup (4 ounces) mascarpone cheese 1/2 teaspoon dried lavender buds (plus more for garnish, if desired) 8 2 1/2 x 4 1/2-inch slices French bread, each about 1/4 inch thick 2 large eggs 1/2 cup half and half 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
To make grapefruit compote
Segment the grapefruit and place segments in a bowl.
Combine water, honey, sugar, and ginger in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil over medium heat and cook, stirring, until honey and sugar are dissolved. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring occasionally, for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Strain the syrup into the grapefruit bowl and discard the ginger. Stir to combine.
Let stand for at least 30 minutes. Can make ahead and refrigerate overnight; bring to room temperature before serving.
To make French toast
Combine mascarpone and lavender buds and stir until smooth. Spread 2 tablespoons of this mixture on one slice of bread, then cover to make a sandwich. Repeat for the remaining slices of bread.
Whisk the eggs and half and half in a shallow dish.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
Dip a sandwich into the egg mixture, turning to coat both sides, and letting the excess drip back into the dish. Place sandwich in the skillet and cook until golden brown on each side. Repeat for the remaining sandwiches, adding more butter to the pan as necessary.
Serve with grapefruit compote and garnish with lavender buds, if desired.