Hi, I am Bella Karragiannidis! I am the creative voice behind the Saveur Magazine award-winning blog, Ful-filled. Today I am sharing a seasonal recipe worthy of Christmas morning! Impress your loved ones with this easy French toast that gets baked in the oven and can be prepared the night before. This Overnight Chocolate + Chestnut & Pear Brioche French Toast is the perfect seasonal treat to make a part of your holiday traditions.
Holiday Expectations Growing Up
As a child, the holiday season used to be the only thing that I looked forward to about winter. In my young oblivion & naivety, I was not able to appreciate the cold, dark days of the season, and only found joy in the ‘new things’ that would be placed for me under the Christmas tree. Before Thanksgiving even came, my Christmas wish list was already written and delivered to my parents, with the rest of the season lived out in constant expectation of what I would receive. As I grew older and had money of my own, the pressure to choose the best gifts that I could afford for the people I cared about would often overwhelm me.
I continued through the holiday motions & expectations like everyone else around me until I met my husband. Our first Christmas together, he gifted me with two boxes of cereal, so that he could introduce me to one of his favorite food combinations: Cocoa Pebbles + Fruity Pebbles together in a bowl with milk (it is actually surprisingly good!) It was one of my sweetest holiday memories ever. I remember the moment I unwrapped the boxes of cereal like it was yesterday, I was truly delighted for the thought he put into creating such a special moment for us to share. We sat down at the table and ate that bowl of cereal together for Christmas breakfast, it was equal parts hilarious and tender, a memory that I will cherish forever.
Creating New Holiday Traditions
We have not bought each other a Christmas gift ever since. Two boxes of cereal were the first & last gift that we ever shared together. Rather than buying presents, the holiday season became a time that we choose to slow down and focus on the things that matter most to us. It is the season that we have more freedom away from our businesses to spend time with close friends and the little bit of family that we have. Getting to cherish a long night over a shared meal and cozy conversation is truly the greatest gift that we could ever hope for.
When most of the routines around Thanksgiving, Christmas, and New Years tend to be so commercially driven & repetitive, the holidays can become somewhat empty and meaningless. Instead, we try to make intentional decisions to honor togetherness and seasons of change. I love to take the time to give the people we love something I’ve made with my hands. Food, of course, is my favorite thing to give someone, and the memories that are created and shared over that food will last a lifetime.
Start a New Holiday Breakfast Tradition
I always look to what is in season when I dream up a new recipe, and no one ingredient is associated with the holiday season more than chestnuts. They have been memorialized in the most infamous of Christmas songs. Still, they are not used nearly enough in holiday cooking. Primarily because preparing them from their raw state can often be fussy unless you actually cook them over a fire. However, chestnuts are far too delicious to miss out on. And thankfully, chestnuts have become readily available pre-cooked and peeled in most grocery stores nowadays, which makes this overnight Brioche French toast recipe very easy to pull together.
Chocolate and chestnuts are a classic pairing, so I knew they would make for a lovely addition to an overnight brioche French toast. The addition of ripe pear slices gives this sumptuous baked breakfast just the right amount of fresh flavor and texture. The beauty of this dish is that you can do almost all of the prep work the night before. The baking vessel gets kept in the refrigerator overnight, and in the morning, simply preheat your oven, nestle slices of pear amongst the soaked brioche, and sprinkle the entire dish with finely chopped chocolate. An hour later, your home will be filled with the sweetest aroma of chocolate + chestnut & pear brioche French toast that bakes up nicely golden and fluffy.
The texture of baked French toast is reminiscent of bread pudding in the very best way, and the greatest part is that you don’t have to stand over the griddle all morning preparing slices of French toast. Rather, you get to sit and enjoy the company of the people you cooked for, making memories and cherishing your togetherness over this delicious seasonal treat.
Bella Karragiannidis is the creative voice behind her blog Ful-filled – where she shares her passion for real food, true health, and living a life with purpose. Bella and her husband currently split their time between their home in Northern California and their tiny studio in Greece, where they have started a non-profit organization to help with the humanitarian and war refugee crises still taking place there. She is a recent Saveur Magazine Blog Award winner for Best Food Instagram.
Images edited with the Local Milk Instagram Preset Collection.
Want more Christmas morning breakfast recipe inspo? Check out my Soft Brown Butter & Eggnog Cinnamon Rolls, this Chocolate & Orange Bread Pudding, a Buttermilk + White Chocolate Dutch Baby, & these Vegan Rose + Chocolate Chip Spelt Waffles!