More dessert than breakfast, these stuffed French toast nuggets may not use braided challah or mascarpone but they do have their own irresistible charm...
Boil the spices
In a medium saucepan over medium to high heat, bring water, cinnamon, star anise, allspice berries and whole cloves to a gentle boil. Reduce the heat to medium an let the water simmer for an additional 5 minutes. Strain the spiced water through a fine-mesh strainer to remove the boiled solids.
Dissolve the sugar and reduce for syrup
Add the piloncillo and cook for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the sugar has been completely dissolved and the mixture starts to develop a consistency similar to maple syrup. Don't let the syrup thicken too much. It should easily coat the back of the spoon, but still pour easily once it has cooled.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Make the filling
In a small mixing bowl, combine the softened cream cheese, milk and Chila 'Orchata until the mixture is completely blended and spreads easily. Mix in a little extra almond milk if the cream cheese is too stiff. (Substitute your favorite cinnamon cream-flavored liqueur if you don't have any 'Orchata handy).
Make the batter
In a small mixing bowl, whisk together the almond milk, heavy cream, vanilla extract, eggs, sugar and salt. Set aside.
Toast the bread
Preheat a grill pan or an electric skillet to medium to high heat. Open the hot dog buns and spread the butter or margarine on the insides of the buns (reserve 2 tablespoons of butter for cooking later). Evenly, but gently, press the open buns face down on the cooking surface and cook for 2 to 3 minutes on each side. Let cool.
Stuff the French toast
Spread the cream cheese mixture generously on the insides of the hot dog buns, drizzle with piloncillo syrup and close the buns by pressing the two halves together firmly. Cut each bun into 4 or 5 equally-sized pieces nuggets, sealing the edges gently with your fingers to make "nuggets".
Cook the French toast
Working in batches, thoroughly coat each nugget with the egg wash for 8-10 seconds, draining any excess batter. Brown both sides of the French toast nuggets on the skillet or griddle using the remaining butter, until all of the nuggets have been cooked. Place French toast nuggets on a baking sheet lined with wax paper and cook for 10 minutes. Serve warm with the powdered sugar and piloncillo syrup.