The Melted Ice Cream Hack Jacques Pépin Uses For Next-Level French Toast

Chef Jacques Pépin was born and raised in France, and began his culinary career in his childhood. After helping in his parents' restaurant, he scored an apprenticeship with the Grand Hôtel de L'Europe at just 13 years old and eventually became a breakfast cook at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée at 16. He worked as a personal chef for three French presidents before moving to the United States in 1959, bringing his culinary talents with him. The award-winning chef and cookbook author is well-versed in French cuisine, and often shares his methods and recipes — breakfast foods included — with his fans.

Despite the name of the dish, Frenchly notes that French toast likely originated in ancient Rome — not France. Still, it did eventually find popularity in France under the name "pain perdu" as a method of using up leftover or stale bread without wasting it. Despite its un-French origins, Pépin is still pretty knowledgeable about the sweet breakfast food, as showcased by his unique recipe for it that uses ice cream unconventionally.

Making breakfast magic with melted ice cream

When it comes to whipping up the perfect French toast, chef Jacques Pépin has the sweetest trick. In a video shared to Facebook from the PBS web show "American Masters: At Home with Jacques Pépin," the chef reminisces about his early days at the Hôtel Plaza Athénée in Paris in the 1950s. While working as a breakfast cook, he often found himself serving up quite a few slices of French toast each day.

To speed up the cooking process, Pépin began using French vanilla ice cream as his liquid base, which he says is created with a "lot of eggs." He lets the ice cream melt before dipping the bread slice in, allowing it to soak for several minutes to absorb the custard. Then, he sautés the coated bread in a frying pan with butter until it achieves that slightly crispy, caramelized exterior the dish is known for. He even notes that if you want a lighter browning and the ice cream doesn't cook off completely, the meal will still be delicious.

The ice cream addition doesn't stop there

In the Facebook video, once the French toast is finished cooking, Jacques Pépin places the slice back on the plate to soak up some of the extra melted ice cream, for an ultra indulgent finish. He tops the whole thing off with some banana slices and maple syrup, then indulges in this extra sweet breakfast.

"The beauty of it," Pépin says, is that "you can do it with strawberry ice cream, chocolate ice cream — it would be a bit different for a French toast." You can even experiment with different ice cream flavors and toppings to customize your breakfast . Chocolate ice cream combined with peanut butter spread on top might make for a decadent Reese's-inspired breakfast, while vanilla ice cream and sliced peaches could remind you of a sweet cobbler. Conveniently, you can find Pépin's full ice cream-soaked French toast recipe with instructions on the PBS website.