easy, decadent pumpkin French toast with spiced maple syrup
Combine the syrup, cinnamon stick, star anise, and cloves in a small saucepan. Bring the syrup to a gentle simmer over low heat. Simmer for about 12 minutes until the flavors infuse. Spoon out the spices and stir in the toasted pecans. Let simmer for another 5 minutes. Keep warm until serving.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a sheet pan with a piece of parchment paper and a wire rack on top. Line another sheet pan with a piece of foil. In a large mixing bowl, beat the eggs. Add in the pumpkin puree, whole milk, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla extract, and maple syrup. Whisk until smooth. Working in batches, submerge the slices of bread into the egg mixture for about 30 seconds. Transfer the bread to the wire rack and repeat with the remaining slices.
Heat a griddle over medium heat (or you can use a large sauté pan). Add a tablespoon or two at a time to coat the surface. Once the butter has melted and is bubbling, place the bread onto the surface, about 1” apart. Cook until golden brown, about 2-3 minutes per side. Transfer the bread to the foil-lined sheet pan. Bake the French toast for 5-6 minutes, or until cooked through.
Meanwhile, at the last minute, add the cream to the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the whisk attachment, beat the cream until very soft peaks form. Whisk in the sugar and vanilla extract. Stop whisking once the cream has turned to soft peaks. I like to keep the whipped cream really soft, so be careful not to whip too long.
Serve the French toast with a dollop of whipped cream and a drizzle of the spiced maple syrup and pecans.