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¼ cup butter
3 large BC apples, peeled and diced
2 Tbsp brown sugar
1 ½ tsp cinnamon, divided
1 (approx 600 gms) loaf bread, cubed
1 package (250 ml) cream cheese, room temperature, cubed
12 large eggs, beaten
2 cups whole milk
1/3 cup maple syrup
1 tsp vanilla
1/2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 cup chopped Fraser Valley hazelnuts or pecans
Icing Sugar, for sprinkling on top
Maple Syrup, to serve
Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat. Add apples and cook, stirring a few times until just tender, about 5 minutes. Stir in brown sugar and one teaspoon cinnamon; continue cooking until the sugar has dissolved, about 1-2 minutes. Let cool.
Lightly coat a 9×13 baking dish with nonstick spray. Place a layer of bread cubes evenly into the baking dish. Dot with cream cheese (works best if you use your hands!) and half the apple mixture in an even layer. Top with remaining bread cubes and remaining apple mixture.
Thoroughly whisk together eggs, milk, maple syrup, vanilla, salt and remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon in a large bowl. Alternately, place all in a blender and blend until combined. Pour mixture evenly over the bread cubes. At this point, you can cover and place it in the refrigerator for at least 2 hours or overnight. However, I’ve been in a hurry and put it right into the oven, and you’d never know the difference.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove baking dish from the refrigerator; let stand 30 minutes.
Sprinkle with nuts; place into oven and bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover; continue to bake for an additional 30-40 minutes, or until golden brown and center is firm.
Serve immediately, sprinkled with icing sugar. Pass the maple syrup around!