When I first described the concept of this mango carrot cake French toast casserole to my mom, she replied, “You’re just trying to have dessert for breakfast, aren’t you?” She knows me so well. But really, let’s take a minute to break down the recipe, shall we? In my book, there’s nothing fundamentally and exclusively dessert-y about challah, carrots, eggs, mango juice, or milk; they’re all plausibly breakfast-y. The cream cheese glaze is a little more debatable, since it does in fact resemble frosting, but the bulk of it by weight is still cream cheese, which people put on bagels. At breakfast. So I would argue that this recipe is maybe 75% breakfast, 25% dessert.
However we categorize it, this mango carrot cake French toast casserole is undeniably tasty! I’ve pretty much been obsessing non-stop over French toast casserole ever since I made the cherry pie version last month, and I’ve brainstormed so many more varieties to try out that I may have to change my blog name to Put on Your French Toast Casserole Pants. It doesn’t really have the same ring to it, though, you know? Anyway, this version was inspired by the very first cake recipe I shared, which is still one of my all-time favorite cakes: mango carrot cake!
In this breakfast adaptation, the mango juice permeates the challah so that you get a taste of tropical paradise in every bite. The walnuts and coconut on top add some extra texture and visual pizzazz, and then of course, there’s the sweet cream cheese glaze. The amounts as listed yielded a bit more glaze than I ended up putting on the casserole, so if you’re looking to make this a little healthier, you could easily half the glaze recipe. Definitely don’t skip it entirely, though…I mean, just look how pretty it is!
We’re only about a week out from the official start of spring! What springtime recipes are you most looking forward to making? Also, in your opinion, what separates dessert from breakfast…or are they sometimes interchangeable? I’m curious to know!
- 1 loaf challah, cut into cubes or torn into chunks
- 1 1/2 cups grated carrot
- 8 eggs
- 1 1/2 cups mango juice (I use Naked Juice Mighty Mango)
- 1 1/2 cups milk
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1/2 cup sweetened coconut
- 4 ounces cream cheese, softened
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- 1/2 cup powdered sugar
- 2 tablespoons milk
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter the bottom and sides of a 9x13 pan. Layer half of the bread chunks in the pan and sprinkle half of the grated carrot on top. Repeat with the remaining bread and grated carrot.
- In a large bowl, beat the eggs. Stir in the mango juice, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. Pour the mixture evenly over the bread chunks. Sprinkle the chopped walnuts on top.
- Bake the casserole for 40 minutes. After 40 minutes, lower the oven temperature to 300 degrees, sprinkle the coconut on top, and bake for an additional 5 minutes.
- For the cream cheese glaze, beat the cream cheese and butter in a mixer until smooth. Stir the powdered sugar, and then add the milk and vanilla extract. Mix until smooth. Use a spoon or a pastry bag to drizzle the glaze on top of the casserole before serving.
- The casserole can be assembled in advance, covered, and refrigerated overnight. I recommend taking the casserole out of the refrigerator while the oven is preheating. You may also need to bake the casserole a few minutes longer, since it is going into the oven cold rather than at room temperature.
- Since pineapple is a fairly common ingredient in carrot cake, I tried adding a can of crushed pineapple to this recipe. The boyfriend and I both found its texture amidst the challah somewhat less than pleasant, so I did not include it in the ingredient list.
- Casserole recipe adapted from The Casserole Queens Cookbook.
- Cream cheese glaze recipe adapted from Mother Thyme.