Sunday Brunch: Mascarpone, Nutella, and Fresh Berry Toasts

We know what you’ll be making for brunch today. 

Remember when you first discovered Nutella? A friend or relative who had spent some time in Europe probably said something along the lines of, “they have this amazing spreadable chocolate.” You went and tracked down a jar at some hole-in-the-wall import store and soon all was right with the world. That was then, today Nutella is a commonly found staple, and when it comes to brunch, what better ingredient? Susan Russo, otherwise known as Food Blogga, is of the same mindset, and today’s Sunday Brunch we’re bringing you her recipe of Mascarpone, Nutella, and French Berry Toasts.

***

Sometimes brunch can hurt.

It was July, 2000, Raleigh, North Carolina. My husband and I were invited to attend an all-you-can-eat Southern Sunday brunch. It was an impossibly humid morning, so I didn’t have much of an appetite. That is, until we entered the frigid air-conditioned restaurant and breathed in the sweet, salty, yeasty air. “I’m hungry,” I said to Jeff. “I hope the food’s good.”

We started off modestly at the table with fresh fruit, juices, and coffee (a rookie mistake in hindsight). We quickly progressed to the steaming hot homemade biscuits, some drenched with butter, others drowned with Southern gravy, both delectable. Soon our small plates dusted with biscuit crumbs were replaced with large plates heaped high with a mound each of creamy shrimp and grits, stewed collards, and black-eyed peas. Jeff got a deep-fried chicken leg, which I refrained from eating, not because I felt virtuous but because I was a vegetarian.

Wiping off our slick, buttery fingers we agreed we would stop.

We didn’t.

A friend told us we simply had to have the pancakes. Who could be bothered with plain ‘ol pancakes? we thought. We didn’t know that they had sublimely moist corn pancakes and sweet potato pancakes doused with sticky praline sauce. We ate both.

Then we did the unthinkable. We say “yes” to dessert: thick wedges of sweet potato pie adorned with freshly whipped cream. It was North Carolina. You don’t skip sweet potato pie in North Carolina.

We got up from the table, waistbands stretched to within an inch of their lives, and I nearly had a hyperglycemic episode. We didn’t eat again until Tuesday.

After that episode, brunch became a dirty word in our house It took years for us to recover. Someone would say, “Sunday brunch” or “stack of pancakes,” and we’d begin to tremble and sweat. We were suffering from brunch PTSD.  I wanted to go to counseling. Jeff refused.

Slowly and patiently over the course of several years we eventually recovered from our fear of brunch. Today we can attend any type of brunch, eat moderately, and enjoy ourselves. When it comes to making brunch at home though, we still prefer simple, smallish, breakfast-y items such as Spinach and Ricotta Frittata, Chili Lime Fruit Salad, Greek Yogurt, Fresh Fig, and Black Currant Parfaits, and Monte Cristo sandwiches.

Our go-to brunch item, the one everyone swoons over, is also the simplest: Mascarpone, Nutella, and Fresh Berry Toasts. Take slices of warm Italian toast, slather them with creamy Nutella and rich mascarpone, and top with slices of fresh strawberries. That’s it. If you can’t find juicy strawberries right now, try other seasonal fruit such as sliced figs or persimmons, or lightly sauteed apples or pears.

And, remember, brunch doesn’t have to hurt.

Mascarpone, Nutella, and Fresh Berry Toasts

You really don’t need measurements for this recipe. An (8-ounce) tub of Mascarpone cheese and 2 pints of berries should make about a dozen toasts.

  • A (1 pound) loaf of sliced Italian bread
  • Butter for toasting
  • 1 jar Nutella, the real thing only please
  • 1 (8-ounce tub) Mascarpone cheese
  • 2 pints fresh berries, such as raspberries, blueberries, or strawberries or fruit of your choice

1. Lightly butter bread and toast until golden.

2. Smear on a layer of Nutella, then top with a layer of Mascarpone. Arrange fruit on top. Serve immediately. Await praise.

Sunday Brunch is an ongoing series featuring brunch recipes from some of our favorite food blogs around the web. New recipes every Sunday, so that you’re ensured a gourmet weekend. Bon appetit!

Image: Susan Russo

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