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Time for a confession. As a child, I never once celebrated Mother's Day. My parents thought the holiday was nothing more than a cheesy excuse to sell greeting cards, and who was I to argue?
But after I became a mother myself? Oh. My. God.
I'd spent years working 80 hours a week as a restaurant chef, and that was nothing compared to the amount of work required of the mother of a newborn. I buckled down and got the job done, but not without help. And not before establishing that in our house we'd most certainly be celebrating Mother's Day. And not just once a year, but once a week. Every Sunday.
At my insistence, The Husband did just as much diaper-changing, baby-bathing and bottle-feeding as yours truly. I also charged him with preparing and serving me breakfast in bed on Sunday mornings.
Of course, he's not really a cook, not even much of a home cook, so I reassured him that the meal didn't have to be fancy. All I needed was a cup of hot coffee and something on a plate or in a bowl that I could eat at my leisure behind the closed door to our bedroom while I read all the magazines that had been piling up since the blessed event occurred. I looked forward to that little staycation all week long.
Once Ruthie - our daughter - began to grow up, she and I started baking together. Our first project was pizza. Nothing if not kid-friendly, pizza is just as much fun to knead and shape as Play-Doh. Meanwhile, I was doing my best to keep sugar from entering Miss Ruth's ecosystem. Sure enough, somehow someone at some point introduced her to sweets, and to ice cream and chocolate in particular.
With the genie out of the bottle, I added some sweet items to our mother-daughter repertoire. Then, when Ruthie was about 5, I invented a special recipe just for her. It incorporated two of her favorite things, French toast and chocolate. And I added one of mine, raspberries. Not only did my little chocoholic love the taste of our French toast, she also loved to make it.
The inspiration to pair up bread and chocolate had its origins in a trip I took to France with my family when I was 13. I was more than intrigued when I noticed French school children digging into a most unusual after-school snack: a healthy hunk of baguette, sliced in half and stuffed with a big piece of dark chocolate.
The following recipe - perfect for breakfast-in-bed for Mom on Mother's Day - is a little healthier than the original. We start with whole-wheat bread, replace some of the whole eggs with egg whites, and swap in raspberry sauce for maple syrup. Complement the finished French toast with some freshly-squeezed orange juice and a pot of freshly brewed coffee, and you're off to the races.
1 pint (2 cups) fresh raspberries, plus extra to garnish
1/4 cup sugar, divided
2 large eggs
2 large egg whites
1 cup 1 percent milk
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
Pinch of table salt
8 slices whole-wheat bread, lightly toasted
3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, coarsely chopped
Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
In a blender or food processor, combine the raspberries with 2 1/2 tablespoons of the sugar. Puree, then pour through a mesh strainer. Discard the seeds and set aside the sauce.
In a medium bowl, whisk together the eggs and egg whites. Add the milk, vanilla, salt and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of sugar. Whisk until well combined.
Coat a large nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat over medium. Dip 2 slices of the bread in the egg mixture until well soaked. Place the soaked slices in the skillet and sprinkle each with a quarter of the chocolate. Dip another 2 slices of bread in the egg mixture, then set them on top of the chocolate, pressing gently but firmly so the pieces adhere.
Cook for 3 minutes, then carefully flip and cook for another 3 minutes. Transfer to a rimmed baking sheet. Repeat with the remaining bread and chocolate, coating the pan with additional cooking spray. When all of the stuffed French toast has been cooked in the skillet and transferred to the baking sheet, bake in the oven for 10 minutes, or until cooked through.
Cut each portion in half on the diagonal, drizzle with some of the raspberry sauce and garnish with additional raspberries.