Combine first 3 ingredients in a small saucepan; cook, stirring constantly, over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until sugar dissolves.
Pour brown sugar mixture into an ungreased 13 by 9-inch baking dish. Arrange 6 bread slices in brown sugar mixture, cutting slices as necessary to fit in dish. Sprinkle raisins and 3/4 cup pecans evenly over bread. Top with remaining bread slices.
Whisk together eggs, next 4 ingredients, and 1 cup cream. Pour egg mixture over bread slices in baking dish.
Bake, uncovered, for 40 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean.
Beat remaining 1/2 cup whipping cream until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form.
Divide French toast evenly among individual serving plates. Top each serving with whipped cream; drizzle with maple syrup, and sprinkle with remaining 1/4 cup pecans. Serve with bacon, if desired.
A viewer or guest of the show, who may not be a professional cook, provided this recipe. It has not been tested for home use.