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Hello again. Your weekly Valentine’s Day reminder, here. Today we are going to focus on a homemade treat: breakfast.

This Valentine’s Day, instead of dashing out the door, hair half-brushed, pants mostly on, with half a Pop Tart clamped between your incisors, sit down at the table. On chairs. And eat. With utensils.

And let’s eat French Toast!  For those of you who approach cooking with a fear and anxiety equal to Hunter S. Thompson on a Death Valley escape from Las Vegas, I have also provided a beginner-level option. Make no mistake: BOTH versions involve actually heating something up. Let’s start with the beginners:

Heart Shaped Toast with Honey Butter for Beginners

What You Need:
4 thickly cut pieces of a nice fluffy bread. Brioche works nicely. I got mine from Balthazar Bakery
1/2 a stick of salted butter, left out on the counter for a while to get soft (but NOT melted)
2 tablespoons + extra drizzle of your favorite brand and flavor of honey
A toaster or broiler (which is in your oven – it’s that drawer at the bottom)
A pinch of sea salt
A large heart-shaped cookie cutter

What To Do:
Once your butter is suitably soft (you should be able to easily mix it with a spoon), place it in a bowl and using a regular spoon, drizzle the 2 Tbsp. honey over it. Mix the honey and butter together so it’s all incorporated. Sprinkle a little sea salt over the top. I really like the punch of a sweet-salty flavor mix (like salted caramels). But if you don’t, you can skip that part.

Cut thick slices from your Brioche bread loaf (like maybe about 1.5″ thick) and toast them up to your desired level of toastiness. I like a nice golden brown, but you’re not making this for me, are you? Are you??

Once your toasts are toasted, place them on some nice plates (yes, you do need to use plates) and spread some honey butter on top. Serve with extra honey butter on the side.

If you are more advanced, or feeling adventurous, you can move on to: French Toast Sandwiches with Nutella Mascarpone Filling. Oh yeah.

What You Need:
For the French Toast:
4 thickly cut pieces of a Brioche bread (1.5″ thick)
2 eggs
1/2 cup milk
Cinnamon (a dash or two)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon of butter to grease the frying pan

For the Filling:
4 ounces of mascarpone cheese
4 ounces of Nutella spread

Confectioner’s sugar for dusting

Tools:
A large heart-shaped cookie cutter
A frying pan
A spatula

What To Do:
First make the filling. In a small mixing bowl, combine the mascarpone cheese and the Nutella. Mix until well integrated. Give it a taste and see if you would like to add either more Nutella or more cheese.

Crack the two eggs into a wide bottomed bowl. Add the 1/2 cup of milk and a dash or two of cinnamon and the vanilla extract. Using a fork, mix everything up so that you now have a light yellow mixture with swirls of cinnamon.

Using the heart-shaped cookie cutter, cut out hearts from your bread slices.

Heat up a frying pan on medium-low heat and melt the tablespoon of butter in the pan.

Dredge both sides of the heart shaped bread slices in the egg and milk mixture, and then add them to the heated frying pan, cooking about a minute on each side. Place the cooked French Toast slices on plates (here we go again with the plates).

Using a knife, spread the Nutella and mascarpone filling on top of one of the French Toast Hearts. Top with another French Toast Heart to make a sandwich. Repeat with the other two slices.

Serve with a dusting of powdered sugar and watch the sparks fly!

Up until now, I have been giving you good-smelling Valentine’s gift options like flowers. Instead, you may want to choose something that smells equally good (or better) and that you can drink: COFFEE! If your honey likes his/her breakfast caffeinated, these options are the cream of the coffee crop in my opinion:

Intelligentsia Coffee (You can only find this in Chicago and Los Angeles, but you can click here to find locations)

Irving Farm Coffee (I recently visited their West Village coffee shop and with thrilled with my smooth latte)

Stumptown Coffee

San’Eustachio

Oh yeah, DON’T throw away the extra bread pieces left over from the heart cut-outs. I’ve got something you can do with them. Something tasty. More details later in the week…

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I know you were concerned about returning to the topic of cured meats. I was, anyway.

For today, we are featuring BACON, which might be my favorite. And CUPCAKES.  Together again for the very first time in this Bacon French Toast cupcake by the Cupcake Stop. For those of you unfamiliar with the Cupcake Stop, it is another one of New York City’s fabulous food trucks. To find their daily locations, you can follow them on Twitter. They also have two brick and mortar locations: one insde the Limelight Marketplace, and the other in Montclair, NJ.

Back to the cupcake. Here is the scene: I was sitting at my desk dilligently working (compulsively checking my Twitter updates), when lo and behold, the Cupcake Stop posted that they had a NEW cupcake – a French Toast and Bacon cupcake. I nearly fell out of my chair (I actually did this on another occasion but it wasn’t cupcake related). I quickly tweeted them to see if they had any at their truck that was conveniently parked dangerously close to my office. EUREKA – they did. I bolted out of the office, saying something like, “I have to go see a guy about a cupcake,” and high-tailed it over to the truck parked by the Flatiron Building.

I demanded (nicely) one of said cupcakes (in exchange for money), and devoured it (not before snapping a picture, of course). It was brunch in a cupcake, in the best way. I explained it to John (who was a bit wary of the flavor combination) this way, “it’s like when you’re at brunch and you order French Toast and bacon. And the syrup that you poured on your French Toast runs into your bacon, and you eat the bacon with the syrup on it and it’s GOOD.” This has happened to you too, yes? Please say yes.

Anyway, I’m not sure John was convinced, but this cupcake falls into the chocolate-covered-pretzel category of foods: salty and sweet, perfectly covering both of those bases. The icing is a vanilla buttercream infused with maple and cinnamon. And yes, there are actual chunks of BACON in the cake part.

Go see a guy about a cupcake.

…And tomorrow, you will find out why my apartment has smelled like bacon for the past three days.

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