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.
Rahul @samosastreet.com says
It sounds so festive. Such an easy and delicious brunch item.. perfect morning treat!
It really is the perfect morning treat! I’ve been having trouble getting up in the morning since the time change this past weekend, but maybe French toast casserole could lure me out of bed…
Joanna @ Everyday Made Fresh says
We love Naked Juice! Yum! Kelsie (my 10 yo) always has to grab one when we are in Target to drink while we shop. 🙂 This french toast casserole sounds amazing! Thanks for linking up with us at The Wednesday Showcase1
Thanks! And yeah, those juices are ridiculously tasty – I can see why she has made that a tradition!
That flavor combination is g.e.n.i.u.s. <3
Thanks! I first came across the combination in a recipe in Better Homes and Gardens, and while I wasn’t terribly fond of the recipe as published, the flavor combo stuck with me.
Jess DiGiannurio says
Oh yum, this is genius!! Love this post, especially your food-tography 🙂 Have a great day! xo
Thanks so much, Jess! I hope you get a chance to try this 🙂
Erin | Well Plated says
I 1,000% endorse dessert for breakfast! Bring it on 🙂
Glad to hear we’re on the same page. Thanks, Erin!
Celeste @The Whole Serving says
like the way you think, because I feel the same way you do. This is so incredibly beautiful.
Thanks so much, Celeste! And I’m glad we’re of the same mindset 🙂
What a fun breakfast…uh, dessert…uh, breakfast dessert! I haven’t had french toast casserole in years, and I’m thinking the mango + carrot cake version is the way to break out of that drought. This sounds perfect for Spring! The only thing that would make it better is if the Easter Bunny himself delivered it right to my doorstep on Easter morning. 🙂
This would definitely be a great way for you to start making up for lost time! I’m taking my dog to see the Easter Bunny this weekend (yes, I know, I’m ridiculous), so I’ll put in a word for you and see if he can bring you some 😉
This one looks so perfect for an easter-brunch. Perfect timing 😉
I certainly wouldn’t say no to a piece of this on Easter morning! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
This sounds delicious! The carrots and mango juice make it healthy–and the rest of it sounds like a special breakfast treat!!
Thanks, Jenny! This casserole really does a great job of making an ordinary weekend day feel like a special occasion 🙂
Megan @ The Many Little Joys says
This looks delicious, and so fancy. I could see it being perfect for a baby or bridal shower brunch.
Thanks, Megan! I hadn’t thought about it for showers, but yes, this would be a great thing to include on the menu! Thanks for stopping by
My favourite fresh juice when I lived in Singapore was mango and carrot, so I know I would love this combination.
That sounds like a super delicious juice! I hope you get a chance to try this sometime – and please let me know if you do!
Yay! So much goodness in one casserole!
Definitely! I’m glad this caught your eye 🙂
Whoa that looks like just about the perfect breakfast! Thank you for bringing it to Fiesta Friday!
Thanks so much! French toast casseroles are pretty much my favorite thing to make (and eat!) lately. Thanks for hosting this week!
Lucy @ Globe Scoffers recipes says
WOW! This looks and sounds amazing! Can’t wait to try this. Thanks for sharing. 😀
Thanks so much, Lucy! I hope you enjoy it as much as we do 🙂
haha dessert for breakfast is never a bad thing!! This looks awesome!
I’m glad we’re in agreement! Thanks so much for stopping by!
Perhaps we will try it out next week:))
I hope you’ll find it to your liking!
This looks and sounds delicious, love the idea of the mango in there too.
Thanks! I’m glad I included the mango juice. The grated carrots on their own don’t have quite enough flavor or sweetness for a casserole this size, but the mango juice took care of that just fine 🙂
As someone who ate strawberry rhubarb pie for breakfast today, I give this casserole two thumbs up. Pinning to try (soon I hope)!
Strawberry rhubarb pie sounds like an awesome way to start the day! I hope you enjoy this as much as we do 🙂
What an interesting and delicious combination of mango and carrots! It looks absolutely tasty, I wish I could take a slice and try! 😀
Thanks! I was a little nervous to see how the carrot would turn out in a breakfast-y dish, but I shouldn’t have worried. Thanks for stopping by!
If you like what you’ve got – it couldn’t be the bad breakfast! 🙂
Kathy @ Beyond the Chicken Coop says
I’m all about finding desserty items for breakfast! And like you said, it’s mostly breakfast items. I think you’ve come up with a fantastic dish! Well done!!!
Thanks so much, Kathy! I’m glad you’re on board!
This sounds soooooo good!
Thanks, Sarah! I’m glad it caught your eye.
While I don’t like sweet breakfasts, I am mighty tempted by your unique french toast casserole. 🙂 Happy FF!
That’s saying something, then, if this recipe piqued your interest! Thanks for stopping by 🙂
Cristina @ I Say Nomato says
Clearly it’s the perfect breakfast! Dessert or no! This looks sooooo yummy… mango and carrots? YUM!
Thanks, Christina! I think some of my favorite recipes are the ones that can double as breakfast and dessert 🙂
Allie | In This Kitchen says
Yesss! This looks so good 🙂 I love the design of your blog, too!
Thanks, Allie! I’m so pleased to hear that you like the blog design 🙂
Gosh this looks so wonderful – so much more healthier and I am sure tastier than regular french toast! This sure is one ‘dressed up’ french toast! Great job!
Thanks, Indu! I’m honestly not sure if it’s healthier than regular French toast…but I do think it’s fancier and more fun!
Oh my goodness, this looks absolutely amazing!! Beautiful photography too! Natx #recipeoftheweek
Thanks so much, Nathalie! I’m glad this caught your eye 🙂
Patty K says
Looks delish! Who wouldn’t want dessert for breakfast? Waking up wouldn’t be so hard! ;D And, mango soaked challah? I’ll take it!
Thanks, Patty! I would certainly get up more quickly if this casserole were waiting for me 🙂
We had this casserole for Easter brunch prepared by cake pants and boyfriend personally and it is absolutely AMAZING!!!
I’m so glad you enjoyed it! 🙂
These mango carrot cake are so Instagrammable and adorable! As you know I made it a short while ago and it was lovely! Thx for sharing!
I’m glad to hear that – thanks for stopping by!