Eat Dessert First: Chronicling Breakssert, the Beyond-Cereal Breakfast

CakeSpy Note: This is a sweet dispatch from Cake Gumshoe Shannon Connell, a food and travel writer based in Chapel Hill, NC. Visit her website here.

They say that breakfast is the most important meal of the day. There’s nothing wrong with an old-fashioned plate of bacon and eggs or even a bowl of granola. But, I dare to dream a little bigger, and definitely a lot sweeter — allow me to introduce breakssert.

Breakssert is a collision of savory and sweet, an impatient ode to what traditionally comes as the first and last flavors of the day. It’s starting the morning off on a sweet foot. Breakssert is the reason that saving the best for last is, simply put, a mistake.

At Terrace Café in Charlotte, North Carolina, they’re getting breakssert right. Their Red Velvet Waffles (pictured top) and S’mores French Toast are enough to make even the most reluctant morning person get out of bed dancing (I know because I am that person).

The Red Velvet Waffle is a crimson grid of sweetness that’s just a tad crispy on the outside but warm and chewy on the inside. If your sweet tooth isn’t quelled by the waffle itself, the cream cheese icing, powdered sugar and a strawberry will seal the deal.

The S’mores French Toast makes any ordinary s’more look plain puny. Chocolate-dipped Texas toast is coated in graham cracker crumbs in a sandwich of chocolate and marshmallowy goodness.

But if you're not in Charlotte, how can you add more breakssert to your life, and fast? Here are some tips. Try your local diner, the non-health conscious, long-time purveyor of sweets and grease. For instance, DeLuca's Restaurant, a famous diner in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania that has been featured on the Travel Channel’s ever-popular Man v. Food, isn’t shy about serving up gargantuan-sized Heavenly Hotcakes and Waffle Sundaes.

Image: RoadFood.comSo what could be better than a pancake topped with ice cream? Two pancakes filled with blueberries and bananas topped with ice cream, whipped cream, strawberries, honey-roasted pecans and chocolate and caramel sauce. That’s the ingredient line-up for their Banana Split Heavenly Hotcakes. Their other seven variations include the Almond Joy, Reese’s Cup and Funky Monkey – a winning combination of double chocolate banana pancakes, French vanilla ice cream, bananas, chocolate and caramel topping.

You can also bring the concept of breakssert home by incorporating sweetness and innovation into your morning meal. A personal favorite is Crème Brulee French Toast, a simple blend of bread, eggs, sugar and butter. A dash of vanilla and Grand Marnier go a long way to bring a lot of flavor to this dessert-inspired dish from

Crème Brulee French Toast

  • 1/2 cup unsalted butter
  • 1 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons corn syrup
  • 6 French bread slices
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 1/2 cups half-and-half cream
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon brandy-based orange liqueur (such as Grand Marnier®)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt


  1. Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Mix in brown sugar and corn syrup, stirring until sugar is dissolved. Pour into a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  2. Remove crusts from bread, and arrange in the baking dish in a single layer. In a small bowl, whisk together eggs, half and half, vanilla extract, orange brandy, and salt. Pour over the bread. Cover, and chill at least 8 hours, or overnight.
  3. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Remove the dish from the refrigerator, and bring to room temperature.
  4. Bake uncovered 35 to 40 minutes in the preheated oven, until puffed and lightly browned. 

Be forewarned! Coffee is a recommended accompaniment to all of the dishes above if you don’t want to enter a post-breakfast food coma. But if you’re looking for a good start to a lazy Sunday morning, breakssert may just be a perfect ingredient.