Buttery croissants, fresh blueberries, and a cream cheese filling are baked in a delicious custard for a decadent breakfast or brunch dish that will be the star of your table!
Make ahead French Toast
French Toast conjures up very specific childhood memories for me. For years I'd forgotten that I once liked it, and once I recalled, I was newly obsessed.
This recipe for Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole is a combination of those childhood French Toast memories, my love of almond croissants (reflected in my Almond Croissant recipe and my French Apple Cake), and my days working in the bakery making bread pudding with leftover muffins, brioche, scones, or, my favorite, croissants.
In this recipe, I placed almond scented croissants in a casserole dish, dolloped a tasty cheesecake mixture in the middle, topped it with juicy blueberries, and baked it up with a sweetened custard for a cheesecakey, French Toasty, fruity breakfast or brunch dish you will absolutely devour!
Ingredients in this French Toast Casserole
- Almond simple syrup This really brings in the almond croissant vibe, and makes this dish seem fancier than it already is. Made of equal parts water and sugar, with a touch of almond extract, this is a super easy ingredient you can whip up in minutes.
- Cream cheese Room temperature cream cheese to add our cheesecake element.
- Powdered sugar Powdered sugar dissolves quickly in the cheesecake mixture and makes it feel lighter than granulated sugar would.
- Lemon zest A little bit of citrus brightens up this fairly decadent breakfast.
- Eggs Room temperature eggs make up the body of the custard that will get poured over top of everything.
- Half and half Since I've already cranked up the richness factor with a cheesecake filling, I used half and half instead of heavy cream in the custard.
- Granulated sugar This is, surprisingly, a less sweet dish than you would think, so I added just enough sugar to sweeten up the custard just a bit.
- Vanilla and almond extracts Both of these extracts are used in several places in this recipe. Don't freestyle and use more of the almond extract than listed. Definitely a place where more would just be more.
- Croissants Years ago I had trouble finding them, but there are so many places to get croissants these days. They're at my local Mega Market, some of the larger chain natural grocery stores, and of course local bakeries. And if you buy day old croissants, they are usually half price and they work perfectly!
- Blueberries Although my grocery store has blueberries year round, you can absolutely use frozen blueberries here. Place them in the casserole frozen though. If you allow them to thaw first, they might burst and bleed purple color over everything.
- Sliced almonds These go on top, to drive home the almond croissant vibe. Leave them untoasted, since they will toast during baking.
- If you don't enjoy almond flavor, feel free to leave out the almond extract and replace with more vanilla extract anywhere in the recipe.
- Feel free to substitute low fat cream cheese (neufchatel), if you prefer.
- If you don't have half and half, you can substitute with equal parts whole milk and heavy cream. You can also use your favorite alternative milk, although I recommend using a richer milk beverage, not a very thin or very low fat one.
- I love this dish with croissants, as the bottom ones get creamy while the top ones stay crispy, but you can use whatever bread you prefer. I would recommend a richer bread, such as brioche or challah, as opposed to regular white bread, which won't give you the same result.
- You can use fresh or frozen blueberries, but you can also substitute with whatever fruit you'd like. This would be equally delicious with strawberries, raspberries, or even stone fruits like peaches or plums!
How to make this Croissant French Toast Casserole
- Make simple syrup In a small pot, combine water, sugar, and almond extract. Bring to a boil and whisk until the sugar is completely dissolved and the mixture is clear. Set aside to cool.
- Toast croissants Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut croissants into 2 inch pieces. Place on large sheet pan and place in oven to dry out and crisp up; about 10 minutes. Set aside to cool.
- Make cheesecake mixture In a food processor, or with a hand mixer, combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest, and vanilla, until smooth.
- Make custard Using a large whisk, combine the eggs, half and half, sugar, and vanilla and almond extracts.
- Assemble Spray rectangular baking dish, or square baking pan, with nonstick spray. Place half of the croissants on the bottom of the dish, saving some of the prettiest pieces for the top. Brush them with almond simple syrup. Dollop large spoonfuls of the cheesecake mixture over the top, making sure all of the areas have a bit. Sprinkle with half of the blueberries. Place remaining croissants on top and brush with the simple syrup.
- Finish Place the remaining blueberries on top and pour the custard over and around all of the croissants. Sprinkle with sliced almonds.
- Bake Bake uncovered in preheated 350°F oven for 45-50 minutes, or until the casserole has puffed up and the center is set. To check for doneness, insert a skewer or a knife into the center. It should come out clean or with only cream cheese on it. If you press on the top of the casserole you should see no liquid trying to seep up. Allow to cool for 15 minutes before sprinkling with powdered sugar and serving.
Storage and Reheating
- Refrigerator Leftovers will keep in the refrigerator for 1-2 days, without losing moisture, when stored in an airtight container or wrapped in plastic wrap. To reheat, place portions in oven safe container and cover with foil. Heat in 350°F oven for 10-15 minutes. To crisp the top, uncover and broil for 1-2 minutes, watching carefully.
- Freezer Leftovers can last up to 2 months in the freezer. Wrap individual portion in 2 layers of plastic wrap and 2 layers of aluminum foil. Thaw overnight in the refrigerator and check that it is completely thawed by inserting a skewer or knife into the center. If it inserts easily, heat as stated in refrigerator instructions.
More French Toast Recipes
Blueberry Cheesecake French Toast Casserole
Almond simple syrup
- ¼ cup (60 g) water
- ¼ cup (50 g) sugar
- ¼ teaspoon almond extract
- 4 large eggs
- 1 ½ cup (360 g) half and half
- ½ cup (100 g) granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon almond extract
- 6 oz (170 g) cream cheese
- 3 tbs (24 g) powdered sugar plus extra for dusting
- 1 teaspoon lemon zest
- ½ teaspoon vanilla bean paste
The rest of the story
- 6 croissants cut into 2-inch pieces
- 12 oz (340 g) fresh blueberries
- ¼ cup (60 g) sliced almonds
- In a small saucepan, combine water, sugar, and almond extract. Simmer until the sugar is completely dissolved. Set aside to cool.
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Cut croissants in large pieces and spread in a single layer on a baking sheet. Toast about 10 minutes, or until dry and crispy. Set aside to cool.
Make cheesecake filling
- Using a hand mixer or food processor, whip the cream cheese, powdered sugar, lemon zest and vanilla together until smooth.
- Whisk together the eggs, half and half, sugar, vanilla, and almond extract.
Assemble and bake
- Preheat oven to 350°F. Spray a rectangular baking dish, or a square baking pan, with nonstick spray. Place half the croissant pieces in the bottom of the pan, saving the prettiest pieces for the top.
- Drop spoonfuls of cream cheese mixture on top of the croissants. Sprinkle half of the blueberries over that. Top with the remaining croissant pieces and the rest of the blueberries. Brush exposed surfaces of croissants with almond simple syrup.
- Pour the egg mixture gently over the top of the croissants. The top pieces will still be sticking up out of the liquid, and will get crispy while baking. Sprinkle over top with sliced almonds. Allow to sit for 10-15 minutes, to allow the croissants to absorb some liquid.
- Bake uncovered at 350°F for 45-50 minutes, or until golden brown and crisp. If the top browns too quickly, tent the dish lightly with foil. When done, it should appear set and a skewer inserted in the center should come out with just a bit of cream cheese.
- Allow to sit for 15 minutes to firm up a bit. Sprinkle with powdered sugar and serve.
The nutritional and caloric information shown is an estimate provided by an online nutrition calculator. It does not assert or suggest that readers should or should not count calories, and should not be considered a substitute for a professional nutritionist’s or doctor’s counseling.
Looks amazing! Can't wait to try this for my next brunch!
Yay! I’m so excited!!