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8 large croissants (from the bakery) sliced into 1-inch cubes (10 packed cups)
4 cups mixed berries (I use raspberries, blackberries, blueberries)
14 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 1/4 cup granulated sugar
6 eggs at room temperature
2 cups half and half at room temperature
1 tablespoon Vain vanilla extract, I used Tongan Vanilla extracted in Orange Spirits
1 tablespoon lemon juice
2 teaspoons lemon zest
1/4 teaspoon salt
CREAM CHEESE LEMON GLAZE
2 ounces cream cheese, softened
1 cup powdered sugar, sifted
1 ½ tablespoons lemon juice
1 1/2 teaspoons Vain vanilla extract
Directions:Toast croissants: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Add the cubed croissants in a single layer to a large baking sheet (15×21-inches). Bake 350 degrees F for 7-10 minutes until golden and very toasted (keep an eye on them so they don’t burn!). Set aside to cool.
Custard: Add cream cheese and sugar to a large mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Beat in the eggs until smooth, followed by the half and half, and finally the lemon juice, lemon zest, Vain vanilla extract and salt.
Assemble: Transfer half of the croissants to a lightly greased 9×13 baking dish, then evenly layer with half of the berries. Pour half of the custard evenly over the dish. Add remaining croissants in a single layer followed by remaining custard. Press down with your hands so most of the croissants are submerged in the custard (it’s okay if the tops aren't). Scatter remaining berries over the dish. Cover with foil and refrigerate overnight.
Bake: When ready to bake, remove the casserole from the refrigerator and let it sit on the counter while you preheat the oven to 350 F degrees. Bake, covered with foil, for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and bake, uncovered, for an additional 15 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
Lemon Glaze: While the casserole is baking, make the Lemon Glaze. Add all of the Glaze ingredients to a medium mixing bowl and beat with a hand mixer until smooth. Taste and add additional sugar for sweeter or lemon juice for tangier. Drizzle the glaze all over the casserole.
Serve: Serve the breakfast casserole warm. Let individuals dust their servings with powdered sugar if they would like it sweeter.
COOKING TIPS FOR THIS BREAKFAST CASSEROLE
Use quality croissants: This isn’t the time for pop and bake croissants. You want medium to large croissants from the bakery section of the grocery store because they have more fabulous flaky layers for the custard to hide in.
Cool the croissants: Give the croissants some time to cool before drenching in the custard so they can firm up a bit – otherwise this defeats the purpose of toasting them!
Use room temperature ingredients: You’ll want to use room temperature cream cheese, eggs and half and half, otherwise the cream cheese will seize and not mix well. If you do end up with some white flecks of cream cheese, it’s not the end of the world, they will melt when the breakfast casserole bakes.
Room temperature eggs hack: Add warm (not hot) tap water to a bowl then add eggs (still in their shells) for at least 20 minutes. You can microwave your half and half until room temperature (NOT hot).
Use soft cream cheese: Make sure you cream cheese is very soft. This is one time it’s okay to gently microwave your cream cheese, just make sure not to scorch it!
Use fresh or frozen berries: Fresh is best but frozen mixed berries will also work -no need to thaw first.
Add powdered sugar to taste: The powdered sugar dusting is honestly more for aesthetic reasons. I recommend serving the sweet breakfast casserole without the powdered sugar and then letting individuals decide if they would like their serving sweeter.
HOW TO STORE AND REHEAT
Storage: This breakfast bake should be tightly covered or stored in an aright container in the refrigerator for up to 4 days.
Microwave: Add individual slices to a microwave safe plate and microwave for one minute. Continue to microwave at 30 second intervals if needed to heat through.
Oven. Reheating leftover breakfast croissant casserole in the oven will yield the best results. Cover casserole with foil and bake at 325 degrees F for 20 minutes or until warmed through.