Cannoli Baked French Toast has all of those delicious flavors of a traditional cannoli coupled with thick slices of Italian bread. Made with ricotta cheese, mini chocolate chips, and a tasty egg custard, this is sure to be your new favorite overnight breakfast casserole.
You may have had overnight breakfast casseroles before, but have you ever had one filled with cannoli cream? This surprisingly easy to make breakfast dish comes together in minutes and sits overnight. So in the morning, all you have to do is pop it in the oven.
If you’ve never had a cannoli before, it is a traditional Italian dessert consisting of tube-shaped pastry fried and stuffed with sweet ricotta filling. There are many different variations of cannoli out there. Some feature pistachios, lemon, or chocolate. But, what seems to be consistent is the ricotta filling.
This Cannoli Baked French Toast takes all of the same concepts of the traditional cannoli and puts in breakfast form. Here, the sweet bread custard takes the place of the shell, with a cannoli ricotta cream filling.
Topped off with mini chocolate chips and maple syrup and you have a crowd-pleasing show stopper of a brunch dish. So read on and see how to make this fun and delicious breakfast bake that will make everyone wanting more.
Looking for another sweet and delicious Italian brunch idea? Be sure to try my Italian Lemon Ricotta Cake or Orange Mascarpone Ciambella. If you love cannolis, be sure to try my simple Frozen Cannoli Bark recipe!
The best bread to use with baked French toast
As with any overnight baked French toast, first you need to start with bread. You have a couple different bread options for this dish:
- Challah Bread – this traditional jewish bread is a my favorite to use in overnight casseroles because of how rich and delicious it is, thanks to all of the eggs used to make it. Plus, it holds up well without getting mushy.
- Italian Bread – the bread I’m referring to here is the fat long loaf that you find in your supermarket’s bakery section. This bread is not as sweet or rich as challah bread, but makes a good base for baked French toast. Here, stale bread is your friend. I recommend letting the bread harden slightly before using in your overnight breakfast casseroles.
- Sweet Bagels – bagels are another great option when it comes to overnight breakfast casseroles. They are firmer and hold up well to the custard. I like to buy the cinnamon bagels or maple bagels whenever I’m doing a sweet casserole.
- Brioche – brioche is very similar to challah bread with it’s high egg and butter content. This equally rich bread is another fantastic choice when it comes to baked French toast casseroles.
Whatever bread you use, it’s always a good idea to let it get a bit stale. Usually a day or two on the counter works well. Otherwise, you risk the bread being too soft resulting in a mushy breakfast bake.
How to make Cannoli Baked French Toast
There are three parts to this dish: the egg custard, the cannoli cream filling, and the bread. You’ll need to have all three ready to go before assembling the casserole.
To start, you will need a 9 x 13 baking dish or a large casserole dish. I recommend using something with high sides as this dish does tend to rise when it bakes.
How to Make the Filling
Firstly, you’ll need to put together the cannoli cream. Traditionally, recipes will ask you to drain the ricotta overnight to draw out any of the moisture. Here, instead I blend the ricotta with cream cheese to help thicken it up without taking the time to drain it.
In a bowl, cream together the ricotta, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Fold in half of the mini chocolate chips (the rest will get sprinkled on top at the end). Set aside and work on the remaining dish components.
How to Make the Egg Custard
Secondly, you will need to prepare the egg custard for the casserole. Here, simply whisk together the eggs, milk, sugar, and cinnamon. (If you prefer a not as sweet dish, or if you are using a sweeter bread, you may want to leave out the sugar in this part of the recipe.)
How to Assemble Cannoli Baked French Toast
First, you will need to layer the bread on the bottom of the casserole dish. Slice the bread about an inch thick. Use cut up pieces of bread to fill any holes or gaps.
Next, pour the custard. You are going to split the custard between the top and bottom layer of the dish. Pour half of the custard mixture over the bottom half of the bread layer.
Then, layer on the cannoli cream mixture. To do so, simple scoop it on and use a rubber spatula to spoon it evenly overtop.
Press on the remaining bread slices using any small pieces to fill the holes. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect.
Lastly, pour on the remaining half of the custard mixture. Use your hands to gently press down and make sure that all of the bread pieces are soaked in the custard.
Cover the dish and refrigerate overnight or for at least 8 hours. Before baking, remove from fridge and let sit at room temperature while the oven warms. Bake, covered for 40 minutes, then remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes, or until the bread is puffed and browned and the custard is set.
Sprinkle hot casserole with remaining mini chocolate chips and serve with maple syrup.
Easy Overnight Breakfast Casseroles
Overnight casseroles have been a real savior when it comes to breakfast and brunches. These dishes can be nearly completely assembled ahead of time and just baked right before serving. Here are some of my favorites:
- Overnight Bagel French Toast with a cream cheese drizzle is made with sweet bagels and a cinnamon infused custard.
- Baked Eggnog French Toast is beyond perfect for the holidays! Easy to make and such a crowd pleaser.
- Croissant Baked Apple French Toast is a real treat with cinnamon apples and a croissant custard layer.
- Eggs Benedict Casserole with Hollandaise Sauce is a great way to get your Benedict fix without the hassle of making individual poached eggs.
- Sausage Hash Brown Breakfast Casserole is a savory make-ahead breakfast dish that is great with a dash of hot sauce.
Hope you love this recipe for Cannoli Baked French Toast. Be sure to comment below and tell me how you love it!
Cannoli Baked French Toast
- 9 x 13 baking dish or large casserole dish
- 1 loaf Challah, Italian, or French Bread cut into 1 inch slices (about 16 ounces total)
- 15 ounces ricotta cheese
- 4 ounces cream cheese, room temperature
- ½ cup powdered sugar
- 2 teaspoons vanilla
- 1 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
- 8 large eggs
- 2 cups milk (whole or 2%)
- ½ cup sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- maple syrup for topping
- Lightly grease baking pan or casserole dish. Place half of the bread slices in the bottom of the dish; set aside.
- To make the ricotta filling, in a bowl using a handheld mixer, combine the ricotta, cream cheese, powdered sugar, and vanilla. Fold in ½ cup of mini chocolate chips; set aside.
- To make the custard, in a seperate bowl using a handheld mixer, combine the eggs, milk, sugar, and cinnamon.
- Pour about half of the egg custard overtop of the bread slices in the baking dish. Next, spoon the ricotta mixture over the bread in the baking dish and use a spatula to smooth.
- Top the ricotta with the remaining slices of bread, breaking up the bread if necessary to fill in any gaps. Pour the remaining egg mixture over top of the bread. Press down gently. Cover with foil and refrigerate for at least 8 hours, or up to 24 hours.
- When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place covered french toast in the oven and bake for 40 minutes. Remove foil and continue baking for 10-15 minutes or until top is golden and custard is set.
- Remove from oven and top with remaining ½ cup of mini chocolate chips. Serve with maple syrup.