Candy cane French toast is a wintery treat to make for your kids when you want to treat them to a special morning. In this recipe, bread is dipped in a peppermint hot cocoa custard, fried, and then served with whipped cream and candy canes.
It’s a festive and fun dish perfect for the holiday season. Even better, its tastes are subtle, meaning it will appeal to kids and parents alike as it is lightly flavored like a chocolate peppermint.
When you’re making the peppermint hot cocoa for the egg custard, make an extra batch to serve to your kids while the French toast is frying up. For the adults, you might even make a few candy cane cocktails or serve some strawberry mint smoothies.
If you want to add some fruit to the meal, try cherries, sliced strawberries, and raspberries for a sweet and red accompaniment.
What You Need to Make Candy Cane French Toast
This recipe requires enriched bread, cocoa powder, salt, eggs, sugar, heavy cream, milk, butter, and candy canes. For the enriched bread, I recommend using a brioche or challah. This will result in a fluffy, light, and rich final dish that is cozy and warm. Just the kind of flavors and textures we’re going for!
- Unsalted butter
- Brioche or challah
- Cocoa powder
- Granulated sugar
- Kosher Salt
- Large eggs
- Whole milk
- Whipping Cream
- Candy Canes
Candy cane French toast requires a whisk, a small saucepan, a non-stick frying pan, two bowls, and a shallow baking dish.
How To Make Candy Cane French Toast
Prepare the candy cane hot cocoa: Whisk together the cocoa powder, granulated sugar, and milk in a small saucepan and place over medium heat. Whisk occasionally for several minutes until the sugar has dissolved and the cocoa powder has incorporated.
Add in 1-2 candy canes that have been broken up into smaller pieces and allow to melt. The number of candy canes you use will be dependent on how large your candy canes are. My candy canes were large, so I just used one.
Remove the cocoa from the heat and let it cool slightly.
Prepare the custard: Whisk the eggs. While you’re still whisking, slowly pour the cocoa into the eggs, being sure not to add too much cocoa at any one time to the egg mixture to avoid cooking the eggs. Once all the cocoa has been added to the eggs, set it aside.
Soak the bread: Slice the bread into ½ inch slices. Place the bread in a shallow baking dish and soak the bread in the candy cane hot cocoa custard for 4-5 minutes per side.
Make the French toast: Heat a non-stick skillet with a pad of butter on medium heat. Once the butter has melted, fry your slices of bread for 3-4 minutes per side, or until they have browned.
Make the whipped cream: Using a chilled bowl and whisk or hand mixer, whisk the heavy cream until stiff peaks form, 1-2 minutes.
Decorate the French toast: Place the French toast on a plate and top it with a dollop of whipped cream. Add a candy cane for garnish and serve immediately as the whipped cream will melt quickly!
The most challenging part of this recipe is making the peppermint custard that you will dip the bread in. You’ll want to make sure that the cocoa cools off before you add it to the custard.
When you add it to the custard, slowly stream the cocoa into the egg mixture to ensure that the eggs do not start to seize and cook. If the mixture is added too quickly when it is warm, you will end up with hot cocoa scrambled eggs. I like to use a ¼ cup measuring cup to slowly stream the cocoa into the eggs to ensure I’m not adding too much.
When you make the whipped cream, use a chilled bowl and whisk. Whipped cream comes together much faster with chilled tools. You can also use a hand mixer to make the whipped cream if you don’t want to make it by hand. I also don’t often sweeten my whipped cream when I’m putting it on sweet foods, but you can add a tablespoon of sugar to the whipped cream if you prefer.
Can I use something besides challah or brioche?
You want to use enriched sweet bread in this recipe. If you can’t find challah or brioche, look for Hawaiian bread, milk bread, or potato bread. The bread you want to use should be sturdy and have a little underlying sweetness to it.
What can I use besides whipped cream?
Although whipped cream is more commonly a topping on peppermint hot cocoa, if you want to make this recipe healthier, you could replace the whipped cream with Greek yogurt. If possible, use a brand that has a more mellow flavor (as opposed to a very tangy flavor).
What can I make ahead?
You can make the hot cocoa several hours ahead or even the night before. The cocoa does not need to be warm when it is added to the eggs, so just make sure you refrigerate it until you are ready to use it.
Can I use mint extract instead of candy canes?
This is a question of personal tastes. I’ve tried using mint extract and find that it makes everything taste a little bit like toothpaste (ick!). This dish is subtle and soft with its flavors, so the extract could be too overwhelming. However, you might find that your brand or variety tastes great and then you don’t need to melt the candy canes. If you want a more adult version of this dish, you could try peppermint schnapps.
Here are a few other recipes you might like!
- Christmas Tree Waffles
- Christmas French Vanilla French Toast
- Christmas Tree Cinnamon Rolls
- Gingerbread Christmas Muffins
- Eggnog Muffins
- Oreo French Toast
- Custard French Toast
Arielle is a food and drink photographer based in Washington, D.C. She was previously a social science researcher before she fell in love with photography.