Recipe Review

The One Ingredient That Makes French Toast 100 Times Better (Yes, It’s True)

published Nov 26, 2023
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Red Bean French Toast on a plate.
Credit: Lena Abraham

As mornings get darker and colder, the promise of a good breakfast is pretty much required to get me out of bed. Luckily, I think I’ve found the ultimate way to brighten even the coldest winter morning: Arlyn Osborne’s red bean French toast. With a two-ingredient filling featuring sweet red bean paste and cream cheese, this decadent breakfast looked like the perfect way to quell my winter blues.

If you’ve got a sweet tooth and haven’t tried sweetened red bean paste, allow us to put you on. A popular ingredient in East Asian countries like China, Japan, Korea, and Taiwan, the paste is made by mashing or grinding adzuki beans before sweetening them with sugar. The result is a smooth and slightly textured spreadable paste with a sweet, earthy flavor and creamy texture. It’s a popular ingredient for mooncakes along with many other traditional desserts (hey, it’s even great in chocolate chip cookies).

Get the recipe: Arlyn Osborne’s Red Bean French Toast

Credit: Lena Abraham

How to Make Red Bean French Toast

Challah or brioche is preferred for this French toast recipe. Cut 2-inch-thick slices of the bread of your choice, then use a paring knife to cut a slit in one side of each slice to make a pocket. In a shallow bowl, whisk together eggs, whole milk, and kosher salt. In a medium bowl, whisk together canned sweetened red bean paste, room-temperature cream cheese, and kosher salt. Transfer red bean mixture to piping bags and pipe into the pocket of each bread slice.

Heat a nonstick skillet over medium-low heat. Add a little butter and let it melt. Dip stuffed bread into milk mixture on both sides, then transfer to skillet. Cook until the bread is golden on both sides and the filling is warm, 4 to 5 minutes per side. Slice each toast in half and top with more butter and maple syrup.

My Honest Review of Red Bean French Toast

Although it was quick and easy to make, this French toast did not disappoint. With a golden custardy exterior and a rich and creamy filling, you’d be hard-pressed to find something wrong with this decadent breakfast. The nutty earthiness of the red beans were a perfect foil to the eggy, delicate flavor of the bread. The maple syrup paired well with the bean paste too, although too much syrup made the dish a little too sweet. I’d recommend a reserved drizzle of syrup — the bean paste delivers enough sweetness on its own.

And if you’re not much of a sweet breakfast person, you could play around with the proportions of cream cheese to bean paste for a creamier, less-sweet version. Alternatively, you could opt for a more savory bread, like sourdough, to balance out the sweet filling.

No matter how you make it, I’d highly recommend serving it with a strong cup of tea or coffee for optimal enjoyment. If that won’t improve your morning, I don’t know what will.

Credit: Lena Abraham

3 Tips for Making Red Bean French Toast

  1. No piping bag? Use a spoon. If you don’t have a piping (or resealable plastic) bag, you can just use a small spoon to fill your bread. Gently press on opposite ends of the pocket to push it open, then gently transfer the filling using the spoon.
  2. For smaller loaves, reduce the milk mixture. My loaf of brioche was about the size of a regular loaf of sliced sandwich bread, and my slices didn’t absorb much of the milk mixture. If your slices are also on the smaller side, you can halve the amount of milk mixture.
  3. Keep the heat medium-low. To avoid burning the outside of the bread before the filling is warm, keep the heat low and use a spatula to check on the underside of the bread occasionally.