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W.J. Marsh House Victorian B & B

Albuquerque, New Mexico

Specialty Recipe

Oven-Baked Monte Cristo

1 to 2 loaves firm bread (We use Earth Grains French)
One 8-ounce package of cream cheese
10 large eggs
1/2 cup real maple syrup
1-1/2 cups half and half
1/2 cup any flavor seedless jam (We use peach or apricot jam, or lemon or orange curd imported from England - do NOT use preserves or jelly)!
6 slices Canadian bacon, cooked
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Butter or margarine

The night before: Grease a 9 x 12-inch baking dish with butter or margarine. Remove crusts from bread and cube it. Place in a closely-fitting single layer in the baking dish. Pinch off marble-sized lumps of cream cheese with your fingers, evenly distributing them over the bread layer. Dice the Canadian bacon and distribute it over the bread as well. Melt the jam in the microwave or in a double boiler until it is warm and fairly liquid. Do not boil it. Drizzle it over the cream cheese/Canadian bacon. Place a second layer of bread, cubed and closely fitted in the same way, over the cream cheese, etc., layer.

Beat the eggs until lemon-yellow and slightly frothy. Add the half and half, maple syrup and vanilla and stir until well blended. Pour this mixture over the bread layers. "Squish" it into bread with your hands. Cover tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (This wonderful dish can be refrigerated as much as three days before baking!)

In the morning: Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees. Remove plastic wrap and bake for 50 to 60 minutes until nicely browned on top. Slice in the kitchen and serve warm with more maple syrup, powered sugar, butter and/ or finely-chopped pecans.

NOTE: This recipe can be made "guilt-free" by substituting skim milk, margarine, and low- or no-fat cream cheese. Suggested accompaniments: We usually serve this scrumptious dish with fresh fruit in season and savory turkey sausage patties.

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