No one bats an eye at $4 toast anymore. Once the greatest offense to pragmatic diners, such an expense seems downright affordable, especially in a city where you’d easily pay twice as much just for street parking three blocks away. Fancy toast has become the new normal, not an affront to sensibility, but a dish to celebrate for its simplicity. Proper toast celebrates each ingredient, starting with the best and brings out its full character. Thick sliced bread, crisped to a burnished golden brown all over, piled high with impeccably fresh fruits or vegetables, flavors are layered and carefully built, often with even more care than the standard American breakfast plate.
Toast toppings are as diverse as the people making them, which is both good and bad news for the avid eater. Order something as unassuming as toast, such a ubiquitous offering, and for all the sweet and savory surprises that could arrive at your table, you’d never get bored. So many choices could just as easily overwhelm, however, paralyzing the indecisive at their most vulnerable, food-deprived moment- At least that’s the case for me. Worse is when I’m making toast at home, given the full range of ingredients tucked away in the pantry and fridge, with no energy to figure out the best combinations.
For anyone else who feels that same struggle, let’s simplify the already uncomplicated concept. Focusing on a nut butter base to narrow the scope and make this more managable, I’ve come up with scores of effortless pairings based on what lurks in my pantry most of the time. Needless to say, this is just the beginning of an endless tale. One could, and many already have, written cookbooks on the subject, so I present to you here just the tried-and-true favorites, the best of the best, that keep my bread crisp and my stomach content.
- The Elvis: Peanut butter with banana slices and coconut bacon.
- Birthday Cake: Cashew butter mixed with a drop of vanilla extract, topped with turbinado sugar and sprinkles.
- Cookie Dough: Cashew butter mixed with a tiny bit of oat flour, a drop of vanilla extract, topped with chocolate chips and a pinch of coarse sea salt.
- Super Seed: Sunflower seed butter topped with toasted pepitas, hulled hemp seeds, chia seeds, and a very light drizzle of toasted sesame oil. Coarse sea salt optional.
- Chocolate-Covered Cherries: Almond butter mixed with cocoa powder, topped with pitted fresh cherries or cherry preserves, drizzled with chocolate syrup.
- Nutella: Hazelnut butter mixed with cocoa powder, topped with toasted hazelnuts, cacao nibs, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Tropical Breeze: Macadamia nut butter topped with thinly sliced pineapple, a light sprinkle of ground ginger, and toasted coconut flakes.
- Thai Almond: Almond butter topped with bean sprouts, cilantro, a drizzle of sriracha and a pinch of coarse sea salt.
- Banana Pudding: Cashew butter with half a banana mashed into it, topped with the remaining banana, sliced, and crushed graham cracker crumbs.
- Massaman Curry: Peanut butter with madras curry powder mixed in, topped with roasted sweet potato and toasted peanuts.
- The Cereal Bowl: Almond butter topped with granola and a drizzle of vanilla yogurt.
- Pecan Pie: Pecan butter topped with toasted pecans, a light sprinkle of cinnamon, and a drizzle of maple syrup.
- Salted Caramel: Cashew butter mixed with dark brown sugar and a pinch of salt, topped with turbinado sugar and coarse sea salt.
- Mocha Latte: Almond butter with instant coffee powder and cocoa mixed in, optionally topped with coconut whipped cream.
- Ants Off a Log: Peanut butter topped with thinly sliced celery and raisins.
- Sonoma Harvest: Hazelnut butter topped with sliced grapes, arugula, a drizzle of balsamic glaze, and toasted sliced almonds.
- Apple Pie: Cashew butter topped with brown sugar, thinly sliced sweet apples, and a sprinkle of cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Cheesecake: Cashew butter swirled with vegan cream cheese, topped with sliced strawberries and crushed graham cracker crumbs.
- The Pregnant Lady: Peanut butter topped with sliced bread and butter pickles, optionally topped with coconut whipped cream.
- S’mores: Cashew butter topped with chocolate chips, crushed graham cracker crumbs, and toasted vegan marshmallows.
Some are obvious, some are a bit more avant-garde, but all are thoroughly delicious. What are your favorite ways to raise a toast?