Almond Crusted French Toast with Fresh Cherry Sauce

This almond crusted French toast is positively addictive when topped with a sweet, tangy, orange-spiked cherry sauce. 

Makes 8 slices

Cherry Sauce:
1 cup orange juice
6 tablespoons granulated sugar
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 cups pitted cherries, halved
1 teaspoon cointreau (orange liqueur), optional

French Toast:
8 slices Texas toast (thickly sliced challah bread works well too)
6 large eggs
1 1/2 cups whole or low-fat milk
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 1/2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
zest of 1 large orange
2 1/2 cups sliced almonds
butter, for griddle
confectioners' sugar

To make the sauce place all ingredients in a small saucepan over medium heat. Bring to a boil; lower to a simmer, and cook until slightly thick and bubbly, about 10-12 minutes. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a shallow bowl or pie plate, lightly whisk eggs; add milk, cinnamon, vanilla, and orange zest and whisk until well combined. Place almonds in a separate shallow bowl.

Place griddle over medium-low heat. (Note: if the heat is too high, the almonds will burn before the toast is cooked). Melt a little butter on the griddle until just coated.

Dip one slice of bread in the egg mixture, allowing the excess to drip into the bowl, then dip in the almonds until both sides are well coated. Place on the hot buttered griddle. Cook for 1 minute per side, or until golden brown and the egg has set. Transfer to a warm plate and cover until ready to serve. Repeat with remaining slices, buttering the griddle as necessary.

Top each serving with cherry sauce, and dust with confectioners' sugar. Serve immediately.