Strawberry Pain Perdu
8 (1 1/4-inch) slices day-old challah or brioche
1/4 C. plus 1 T. sugar, divided
Pinch of salt
2 C. half-and-half
1 t. vanilla extract
2 C. strawberries, cleaned
2 T. butter
Whipped cream for garnish
Mint leaves for garnish
In a medium bowl, beat together eggs, 1 tablespoon sugar and salt, then add half-and-half and vanilla. Place bread slices in a pan or dish large enough to hold them in 1 layer. Pour egg mixture over slices and let stand until absorbed, about 15 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully turn bread once while soaking.
Pour remaining sugar in a large skillet; cook over medium-high heat and add berries, stirring carefully until sugar dissolves and berries are warmed through. Do not overcook and break down berries too much.
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add bread slices in batches and cook until golden brown on both sides. Lower heat if bread browns before it is cooked through.
Place cooked pain perdu on each of 8 individual plates; top with berries and their sauce. Garnish each with about 1 tablespoon whipped cream and a mint leaf. Makes 8 servings.