This Make-Ahead Cannoli French Toast Casserole Is Breakfast Disguised as Dessert

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There are few things more satisfying than a slice of freshly baked homemade bread. However, stale bread can be just as rewarding, as it can be easily repurposed in delicious ways. One example is our croque madame breakfast casserole, which is wonderfully savory and hearty. But if you're looking for something to please your sweet tooth, you'll want to try this cannoli French toast version instead.

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Just like actual cannoli, this casserole calls for a creamy ricotta-based filling studded with mini chocolate chips. The filling is then sandwiched between cubes of stale bread that have been soaked in a smooth custard. Once layered and baked in a large dish, the ingredients turn into a comforting casserole that's perfect for breakfast ​and​ dessert.

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As with most casseroles, this recipe can be prepared in advance. In fact, it's best to let the ingredients sit in the refrigerator overnight, as this will let the bread fully soak up the custard. Try making it the next time you need to round out a special meal, like for Valentine's Day dinner or a celebratory brunch. Ahead, find the full recipe for cannoli French toast casserole.

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Cannoli Filling

Things You'll Need

  • 8 ounces mascarpone cheese, softened

  • 1 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

  • 3/4 cup powdered sugar, plus more as needed

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon fresh orange zest

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Step 1

Add all of the ingredients to a bowl. Mix until smooth and evenly combined.

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Tip

Typically, cannoli filling is not overly sweet. But if you want a sweeter filling, feel free to add more powdered sugar.

Cannoli French Toast Casserole

Things You'll Need

  • 8 cups day-old French baguette or Italian bread, cubed

  • 1 cup half and half or heavy cream

  • 1/2 cup whole milk ricotta cheese

  • 4 large eggs

  • 1/2 cup powdered sugar

  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract

  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

  • 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

  • Cannoli filling

  • Unsalted butter, for greasing

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Tip

You can also use regular-sized chocolate chips.

Step 1

In a large bowl, add the half and half, ricotta, eggs, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and cinnamon. Whisk until combined.

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Step 2

Add the bread to the bowl, then toss until every piece is soaked. Let the mixture sit for five to 10 minutes to help with this step.

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Step 3

Grease a large casserole dish with butter. Add half of the bread mixture.

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Step 4

Spread the entire batch of cannoli filling on top of the bread. Add half of the chocolate chips.

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Step 5

Top with the remaining bread mixture, making sure to pour any remaining custard on top. Cover and refrigerate overnight, or at least eight hours, to let the bread soak up the custard.

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Step 6

When you're ready to bake the casserole, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Top the casserole with the remaining mini chocolate chips, then bake for 30 to 40 minutes or until the bread is golden brown.

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Step 7

Garnish with powdered sugar and serve warm.

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