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Coconut French Toast

Chef Anthony Hubbard, 5 Spot, Seattle
serves 4
1 loaf bread (such as Macrina's batard, cut into eight 3/4-inch slices)
14 1/2 Tablespoons unsalted butter (1/2 cup is optional, used for coconut butter balls)
confectioners' sugar (for dusting)
1 1/2 cup coconut milk
4 large eggs
2 1/3 Tablespoons vanilla extract
1/3 cup diced pineapple (ideally fresh)
2/3 cup granulated sugar
2 Tablespoons sour orange juice (or 1 part orange juice, 1 part lime juice, and 1 part lemon juice)
2/3 cup heavy cream
1 Tablespoon dark rum (We use Gosling's Black Seal Bermuda Black Rum)
1 cup macadamia nuts
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup sweetened shredded coconut (toasted, optional, used for coconut butter balls)
For Custard: In a large bowl, beat coconut milk, eggs and 2 Tablespoons vanilla until well incorporated. Coconut milk will curdle at first but will smooth out with mixing. Set aside.
For Pineapple Sauce: In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed pot add pineapple, sour orange juice and 1/3 cup granulated sugar. Heat on medium-high heat until mixture starts to simmer and sugar begins to brown, about 5 minutes. Stir in 1 1/2 Tablespoons butter and heavy cream and simmer an additional 5 to 6 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in dark rum; set aside.
For Macadamia Nut 'Rocks': In a medium-sized heavy-bottomed fry pan, add macadamia nuts, 1/3 cup granulated sugar, salt and 2 Tablespoons butter. Heat on medium-high heat until sugar is melted and bubbly, about 5 to 7 minutes. Whisk while mixture heats up and starts to color. This helps to coat the nuts. Remove from heat and stir in 1 teaspoon vanilla. Nuts will be sticky. Spread nuts on a parchment-lined baking sheet and allow to cool completely.
For Coconut Butter Balls (optional): In a small bowl, mix 1/2 cup butter until soft and spreadable. Place toasted coconut on a shallow plate. With a mini ice cream scoop or teaspoon, scoop out the butter and roll in toasted coconut. Form into 4 balls and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Heat a large griddle pan on medium-high heat. Add 1 Tablespoon butter and heat until melted. Working in batches, dip sliced bread into Coconut Custard until well coated, and place on griddle. Cook until well-browned, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer to a sheet pan and keep warm in a 200-degree oven. Continue with remaining slices of bread.
For assembly, place 2 pieces of French toast on each plate. Drizzle with 1/4 cup Pineapple Sauce, 2 tablespoons of Macadamia ‘Rocks’ and a Butter Ball or plain butter. Dust with confectioners’ sugar and enjoy!