February! It’s a month when we bundle up and try to hide from the chilly weather, but it’s also the season for warmth of an entirely different variety. On Valentine’s Day, couples the world over express their love to one another. Whether you’re young and passionate, or older and wise, it’s a day to show your loved one how much you care.
A ‘Roman’ Holiday
It’s a bit of an understatement to say Italians know a thing or two about romance. In fact, the historical St. Valentine was an Italian, spending his lifetime marrying young Roman couples in the days when the Colosseum was still open for business. Perhaps the greatest love story of all time, Romeo and Juliet, even took place in Bauli’s home, the city of Verona in the north of Italy. Fast-forward to the 20th century, and you’ve got Fellini’s “La Dolce Vita,” Audrey Hepburn taking “A Roman Holiday,” and so many more. It’s safe to say Italy’s always had a special touch in all matters amorous.
Breakfast in Bed, Italian Style
Chocolates are great, roses will always brighten up a room, and of course everyone appreciates a nice card. The thing is, you can buy these typical Valentine’s Day accessories almost anywhere, meaning your special someone is probably expecting a bit more effort. When you really want to express your feelings to another person, nothing is better than something that’s a little out of the ordinary, and that shows you put in a bit of time and thought. Imagine the smile on your loved one’s face, waking up to a home cooked breakfast that can be enjoyed from the comfort of bed!
Even better, this year, Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday, so there’s no workweek rush to get in the way of some quality time! But what to serve?
Panettone French Toast
Let me clear the air and say I think this should be called Italian Toast. The reason for this is the key ingredient, Bauli Panettone. Made from the highest quality natural ingredients and with respect for ancient traditions, Bauli’s Il Panettone di Milano is a naturally leavened, oven-baked Italian cake filled with raisins and glazed orange peels. One of the most popular desserts in Italy and Europe, it is easily recognized by its distinctive cylindrical shape. The shape makes it easy to cut evenly, which brings us to the recipe for “Italian” French Toast:
- 1 Bauli Panettone
- Powdered sugar and cinnamon for dusting
- Maple syrup
- Fresh berries
Pre-heat oven to 200 degrees.
Trim the bottom crust from the Panettone. Starting at the bottom of the loaf, cut it crosswise into 6 (3/4-inch thick) round slices. (Reserve the top piece for buttered toast!)
In a large bowl, whisk the eggs. Add the cream, milk and sugar, and whisk until well blended.
Melt 1 tablespoon butter on a nonstick griddle over medium heat. Dip the Panettone into the egg mixture, turning to allow both sides to absorb it. Grill the soaked Panettone slices until golden brown and firm to the touch, about 4 minutes per side. Transfer to a baking sheet and keep warm in the oven. Repeat with the remaining butter, Panettone slices and egg mixture.
Transfer the French toast to plates. Top each with a dollop of mascarpone, and sprinkle with powdered sugar and cinnamon. Add berries, drizzle with maple syrup, and serve immediately.
Aaaaaand … That’s Amore!
Now comes the part you’ve been waiting for. Speaking from experience there is no look quite like the mix of surprise and excitement in your loved one’s eyes upon being woken up in the best of all possible ways. It will speak volumes that you went to the trouble to make this delicious Italian treat rather than opt for something that comes in a box. And trust me, you will never look at “French” toast the same way after using a Bauli Panettone, with its beautiful soft and supple dough.
As for what comes next, that’s entirely up to you, but we Italians have a saying that’s especially relevant to breakfast in bed: Buon principio fa buon fine. It means “a good beginning makes a good ending.” So, with that in mind, why not take a cue from the immortal words of Italian-American singer Dean Martin, let cupid pull back his bow and say, “That’s Amore!”