* 1 cup pure maple syrup
* 1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger
* 1 medium-large ripe, fragrant mango
* 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg, preferable freshly grated
* 4 large eggs
* ½ cup heavy cream, half-and-half, or whole milk
* 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
* 3 tablespoons pure maple syrup
* ¼ teaspoon salt
* 8 slices day-old-challah, cut about ½ inch thick
* About 4-8 tablespoons (2-4 ounces) cream cheese, softened
* Unsalted butter, for frying
1. Make the syrup. Combine maple syrup and ginger in a glass jar and cover tightly. Let stand at least 1 hour or as long as overnight at room temperature. Strain before using.
2. Prepare the French toast. Working over a bowl to catch the juices, peel the mango, then cut it into small cubes. Appearance doesn't matter here - the mango will be hidden inside the challah. Stir the nutmeg into the mango, and let the flavor meld for a few minutes.
3. Beat together the eggs, cream, half-and-half, or milk, vanilla, maple syrup, and salt in a shallow bowl until smooth.
4. Spread a slice of challah with about 1 tablespoon of cream cheese (if your challah slice is very large, you may need more cream cheese). Top with one-quarter of the cubed mango, then cover with a second slice of challah. Gently pat the challah sandwich together so it is neat and compact. Repeat with remaining challah, cream cheese, and mango.
5. Place the stuffed challahs in a baking dish just large enough to accommodate them in one layer (glass 13 x 9-inch baking dish). Pour the egg mixture over them evenly and let soak for about 10 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully turn them and allow the other side to absorb the egg mixture for 10 minutes; at this point, you can either cover the pan with foil and refrigerate until the following morning or make them right away.
6. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
7. In a 10 to 12-inch heavy skillet, fry the stuffed challahs (two at a time, so you don't crowd the pan) in sizzling butter until golden brown on both sides. Transfer to a baking sheet and bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the mango is hot and bubbling.
8. Serve the French toast with the syrup - even better when the syrup is warmed.
Yield: 4 servings
Note: Fresh blueberries make a marvelous substitute for the mango.