Vegan French Toast Casserole: Mexican Hot Chocolate

One of my most pinned recipes is my Eggless French Toast Casserole -- I'll call it the classic version.

I wanted to shake it up a bit. I don't know about you, but sometimes our household falls into breakfast ruts. My husband eats the same breakfast every day, mostly out of choice. Lately, though, he said that he'd like to have more fun foods, so this led to the Mexican Hot Chocolate French Toast Casserole.

Confession time: I like to try fun flavor combinations. (Like mango and cherries.) If you've never had the pleasure of trying Mexican Hot Chocolate, you must! The combination of cocoa, cinnamon, and cayenne pepper is really a treat. It's like a flavor party in your mouth. Be careful with the cayenne until you get a feel for the flavor though!

My husband said that this casserole tastes like dessert -- and he's sort of right. It's quite decadent. I'd compare it to the richness of banana chocolate chip pancakes. Which are amazing.

My favorite part of making French Toast casseroles is the easy prep. You assemble 90% of it the night before and then you can just pop it in the oven the following day. If you have problems with nuts, you can leave off the topping or sub some coconut in -- I bet that would taste good :-)

Vegan French Toast Casserole: Mexican Hot Chocolate
One loaf of bread, cut into about 1-inch cubes (like my challah bread)*
2 1/4 c. almond milk, or another non-dairy milk
1/2 c. flax seed, ground
3 T. coconut sugar
1/3 c. bourbon (or sub with water for kids)
1-2 tsp cinnamon
dash of cayenne pepper (it's good, I promise!)
1/4 c. unsweetened cocoa powder

*make this recipe gluten-free by using GF bread

For the topping:
3 T. organic cane sugar
1⁄2 c. sliced almonds
1⁄4 c. pure maple syrup

For the French Toast Casserole:
The night before you plan on serving the casserole, grease a 9x13 oven-safe pan with coconut oil. Line the pan with the cubed bread, spreading the pieces out evenly.

In another bowl, combine the almond milk, flax, sugar, booze (or water), cocoa, cayenne, and cinnamon. The next step is easy: pour the mixture over the cubed bread; try to cover all of the pieces. Cover the pan and put it in the fridge over night.

The next day:

Preheat the oven to 375°. Remove the casserole from the fridge. Whisk the topping together and top the casserole. Spread it out as much as you can. Pop it in the oven! Cook the casserole, uncovered, for 35-45 minutes. When you pull it out of the oven, there should still be a small amount of liquid on the bottom of the dish.

I served this dish when my friend Kristie was in town -– it was a big hit! The French Toast was delicious and the chocolate flavor made it seem like we were eating dessert for breakfast!

Make this dish; you won’t regret it ;-)