Inspired by a recipe created by Paula Deen, I changed things up a bit adding vanilla and substituting the half & half for egg nog since this was for a Thanksgiving breakfast family gathering.
For the Egg Nog French Toast Casserole recipe, you will need
I loaf of bakery French bread (I used two loaves to feed 15) - If you want to purchase pre-sliced break, purchase a hearty bread and not something soft that will get mushy.
8 large eggs slightly beaten
2 cups of half-and-half (substitute with 2 cups of egg nog if making Egg Nog French Toast)
1 cup milk
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1 teaspoon cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground nutmeg
For the Sugared Pecans / Praline Topping you will need
2 sticks of butter (1/2 lb)
1 cup packed light brown sugar
1 cup chopped pecans
2 tablespoons light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Cut the French bread into slices about ¾" - 1" thick.
For my recipe shown, I used 1 & ½ loaves since I was feeding 15 people. I used the remainder of the bread for a smaller batch of baked French Toast / French Toast Casserole, shown at the end of the photos for Ben and myself a few days later, but you could use it to make stuffing, bread crumbs, bread pudding, toast with breakfast the next morning, etc.
Layer the bread into a well buttered 9 x 13 casserole dish.
In a large bowl, combine the eggs, egg nog (or half & half if you prefer), milk, sugar, vanilla, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt. Beat well until mixed together. Do not beat too much though, just until blended well.
Pour the mixture over the bread and in between the layers making sure all of the bread gets moist. It might look like you have too much of the liquid mixture, but it will soak into the bread overnight.
Cover with foil and place into the refrigerator overnight.
The morning of your breakfast or gathering, pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees.
Uncover the French Toast and sprinkle on the sugared pecan / praline topping and bake for 40 minutes. Keep an eye on the casserole during the end if your oven's temperature is off.
For the smaller batch I mentioned earlier, I did not create the sugared / praline pecan topping, but I did served it with Bourbon Barrel aged maple syrup, from Runamok Maple, made in Vermont. I tried each one of the syrups and they were equally delicious, but if I were to pick just one.... I'm a bourbon girl, so I would have to choose that.