Recipe Review

I Tried Brown Sugar Toast and I Can’t Get Over How Good It Is

published Aug 10, 2022
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Credit: Grace Elkus

Toast is definitely having a moment. First up was the custard yogurt toast that took TikTok by storm. Then came grated egg avocado toast (which I’ve heard is just as good on matzo). And now, everyone’s talking about caramelly brown sugar toast — a three-ingredient concoction described as “sweet, buttery, and crunchy.” 

The toast made its debut in a 47-second Instagram reel shared by Cook’s Illustrated. In just a few short weeks, it has garnered more than 10,000 likes and hundreds of thousands of views. I’m guessing most viewers had the same reaction as me: How have I not thought of this before? 

The glistening toast is ready in 10 minutes, can be served any time of day, and seemed impossible not to like. Here’s what happened when I gave it a try. 

How to Make Caramelly Brown Sugar Toast 

The toast was originally developed for Cook’s Illustrated’s shokupan, a light and fluffy Japanese white bread. But in the comments section of the video, Cook’s Illustrated approves of substituting challah or brioche. I opted for Trader Joe’s sliced French brioche, which is honestly better than anything I could make myself. It’s fluffy and buttery and slightly sweet on its own, so I could only imagine what caramelizing it would taste like. The one-inch-thick slices are also the perfect size for this recipe. 

Once you’ve secured your bread, you’ll mix together softened salted butter and dark brown sugar. The softened butter is the only component of this recipe that requires some forethought — so if your butter is in the fridge, go put it on the counter! Alternatively, a rolling pin will do the trick in 12 minutes flat. 

When your butter mixture is complete, spread half of it onto one side of your slice of bread. Place the bread butter side-down in a nonstick pan, spread the remaining butter on the top of the bread, then turn the heat to medium. Cook until browned and crisp all over, about three minutes per side. Let the bread cool slightly on a wire rack before serving. 

Credit: Grace Elkus

My Honest Review of Caramelly Brown Sugar Toast

How could something so simple be so good? How many slices are appropriate to eat? What else can I spread this brown sugar butter onto? These were the thoughts running through my head when I took my first bite. This toast is transcendent. It tastes like the grown-up version of the cinnamon-sugar challah toast I ate as a kid, which was simply toasted challah bread spread with butter and cinnamon-sugar. Toasting the bread with the butter — and using brown sugar instead of white — is an absolute game-changer. I can’t wait to serve it to everyone I know, just so I can watch their reaction, too.

As far as when to serve it, I say lean into the sweetness and serve it as dessert. Topped with vanilla ice cream, it would be a total showstopper at a dinner party. 

Credit: Grace Elkus

Tips for Making Caramelly Brown Sugar Toast

  1. Double (or triple) the recipe. Making more than one slice is easy. Simply make extra of the butter mixture, divide it among multiple slices, then use a larger skillet for toasting. 
  2. Use what you have on hand. Although salted butter keeps the ingredient list short, you could easily swap in unsalted and just add a pinch of salt. Light brown sugar would also work in place of dark. 
  3. Watch the toast carefully. Just like caramel sauce, the brown sugar butter can go from caramelized to burnt in seconds. I had the most success cooking the first side over medium-low, then reducing the heat to low for the second side. If you start seeing smoke, the damage is probably already done! 
  4. Let it cool longer than you’ll want to. Bite into the toast too soon, and the caramelized sugar will get stuck in your teeth. Wait at least a few minutes before digging in.