Monte Cristo Sandwich

Earlier this week, I asked my Chief Culinary Consultant if he was hungry for anything in particular. He thought for a few minutes, and then suggested some Monte Cristo sandwiches. I had heard of them, but had never eaten one. He said he’d had one quite awhile back at a popular Pittsburgh diner, but he thought that they no longer had it on their menu. I did a quick search online and found that the Monte Cristo sandwich is basically a savory stuffed French toast. A ham and cheese (most traditionally, Gruyère) sandwich with Dijon mustard is dipped into a custard mixture and then fried in a skillet. The kicker? It’s most commonly served with either sweet fruit preserves or maple syrup. While I’m always a fan of sweet and salty combinations, I’m less adventurous when it comes to sweet and savory. Maple syrup with cheese? I definitely went in skeptical. I may have even made some faces. Let me tell you, you just need to trust it. It totally works!

I took my traditional French toast recipe and adapted it a bit to make these delicious sandwiches. The custard mixture includes a little bit of brown sugar and vanilla extract, which you could omit if you want to keep the sandwich more savory. I ended up loving the touch of sweetness in the bread itself. It really paired well with both the ham and the cheese; it reminded me of baked brie served with fruit preserves. Such a fantastic combination! I will admit that I took a bite of the sandwich before drizzling the maple syrup over it, just so I could compare the before and after. (I was totally side-eyeing the maple syrup the whole time.) As it turns out, the syrup is a fabulous complement to the entire finished sandwich.

This Monte Cristo sandwich is part grilled cheese, part French toast, and every single bit amazing. I tippy-toed out of my eating comfort zone and found something totally delicious and new to me. I obviously need to take more of my Chief Culinary Consultant’s recommendations – they’re always spot-on!

One year ago: Creamy Potato and Leek Soup
Two years ago: Butternut Squash Soup
Three years ago: Egg Bagels
Five years ago: The Perfect Omelet

Monte Cristo Sandwich

Yield: 4 sandwiches

Prep Time: 10 minutes

Cook Time: 20 mintes

Total Time: 30 minutes

A variation of the Croque Monsieur, this is a savory ham and cheese sandwich prepared like French toast, served with sweet fruit preserves or maple syrup.

Ingredients:

8 slices firm bread (a hearty French or Challah), sliced ½-inch to 1-inch thick
1½ cups whole milk
6 egg yolks
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted + 1 tablespoon for cooking
1 tablespoon vanilla extract
¼ teaspoon salt
Dijon mustard
8 ounces sliced Virginia ham
8 ounces Gruyère cheese, shredded
Maple syrup, for serving

Directions:

1. If your bread is not yet dry, put it in the toaster on the lowest setting to dry it out.

2. Whisk together the milk, egg yolks, brown sugar, melted butter, vanilla extract and salt in a medium bowl. Pour the custard into a 9x13-inch baking pan.

3. Assemble the sandwiches by spreading a thin layer of Dijon mustard on each slice of bread. Top 4 slices with an equal amount of ham and cheese, and then top with the remaining slices of bread, pressing them together gently.

4. Set a 12-inch skillet over medium-low heat and melt ½ tablespoon of the butter.

5. Meanwhile, place the assembled sandwiches in the custard mixture for 20 seconds. Gently flip the sandwiches over and soak on the other side for an additional 20 seconds. Transfer two of the sandwiches to a baking sheet or tray.

6. Place the other two sandwiches in the skillet and cook until golden brown, 3 to 4 minutes. Using a spatula, carefully flip the sandwiches and cook until the second side is golden brown, an additional 3 to 4 minutes. Remove the cooked sandwiches to a cooling rack or serving tray. Wipe out the skillet with a paper towel, melt the remaining ½ tablespoon of butter and repeat with the remaining two sandwiches.

7. Serve with maple syrup or fruit preserves.

(Adapted from my French Toast recipe)

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45 Responses to “Monte Cristo Sandwich”

  1. Becca on October 25, 2012 at 2:55 am

    Great and now I’m suddenly starving.

    I’ve had a couple variations of this, and oddly never the original. One was filled with a nice sharp cheddar and bacon and it did not come with maple syrup and I found myself wishing for it. The second was a corned beef and swiss filled sandwich and was amazing with some maple. I find just a slight brush of syrup on the bread is all the sweetness it needs. The corned beef version may have been my favorite.

    Reply

  2. caesar on October 25, 2012 at 3:15 am

    Believe it or not it is very good with a little bit of Sauerkraut on it! It’s almost like a Reuben Sandwich dressed up.

    Reply

  3. krystyna.ch on October 25, 2012 at 4:46 am

    Now, I’ve eaten (and made) croque monsieur and sweet french toasts, but this is officially weird. Ms. Brown Eyed Baker, you’re definitely a braver person than I am. If I ever make this, I’ll make sure to describe the experience in graphic detail ;)
    And where did the name come from, I wonder? Was there a passage in the book about Edmond Dantès flaunting his wealth so much – while impersonating the Count of Monte Christo – that he put every possible ingredient on his grilled cheese sandwich? :D

    Reply

  4. Andrea J. on October 25, 2012 at 5:58 am

    I love these sandwiches. We had these on our honeymoon 12 years ago for the first time but I’ve never tried to make them. I may try it now.

    Reply

  5. KAREN on October 25, 2012 at 7:10 am

    Oh, these are sandwiches from my youth!! We had a restaurant near us called Jojo’s. They had a very good version, which I loved and was a special treat. This, however, takes it to a new level! Thank you! also, as an aside, I have made a shortcut version of these lately. I normally don’t add any swet or spice to my french toast batter. So sometimes I put ham and cheese in the middle of two pieces of french toast and eat that. Less fancy but basically the same.
    Thanks again for this…it will be lunch on Saturday!!

    Reply

  6. Joy on October 25, 2012 at 8:17 am

    I would not have considered making these sandwiches, but you make me want to try them- thanks! They look delicious! :)

    Reply

  7. Carol on October 25, 2012 at 8:35 am

    OMG! I can’t believe Karen mentioned Jojo’s! I used to eat there as a kid too and ALWAYS ordered a Monte Cristo. This brings back good memories. I might just have to try this soon.

    Reply

    • KAREN on October 25th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

      Carol: They were great, weren’t they? Enjoy when you make them!! Did your have bubble windows? lol

      Reply

  8. Jamie on October 25, 2012 at 9:34 am

    My Mom always gets one if they are on the menu! Soooooo good & decadent! Never seen it served w/syrup, always had a powdered sugar dusting & a raspberry dipping sauce! Try that next time, you won’t be let down!

    Reply

  9. Leslie on October 25, 2012 at 9:48 am

    Oh I love these sandwiches. I had one in St. Louis once that was battered and deep fried. It was like a grilled cheese sandwich covered in a doughnut. They served it with powdered sugar and a mint jelly. I’m going to have to try your recipe though because it sounds just as delicious.

    Reply

  10. Christy@SweetandSavoring on October 25, 2012 at 10:01 am

    I used to love these sandwiches when I was a kid!

    Oh, and your photos are beautiful :)

    Reply

  11. Tricia @ Saving room for dessert on October 25, 2012 at 10:52 am

    Oh my – I could eat that any time of day – breakfast included! Absolutely beautiful.

    Reply

  12. Kristen on October 25, 2012 at 11:02 am

    I’m not sure I could do the syrup, but whoa… the sandwich is incredible! Yum!

    Love your new look too!

    Reply

  13. Jenna on October 25, 2012 at 11:05 am

    What a fab combo! Looks great

    Reply

  14. Jen on October 25, 2012 at 11:07 am

    This looks really good! I’ve had a really amazing version that uses Portuguese sweet bread and also has turkey in addition to the ham and cheese. I’ve only ever had it with maple syrup though but I will have to try it with fruit preserves. So rich no matter how you make it! :)

    Reply

  15. Megan C. on October 25, 2012 at 11:24 am

    I love these sandwiches. I’ve usually had it served with raspberry preserves which is yummy too. Also one restaurant made it on cinnamon raisin bread which worked really well too.

    Reply

  16. Jenny on October 25, 2012 at 11:29 am

    Interesting…. I’ve never seen them served with syrup, only sprinkled with powdered sugar and some preserves on the side.

    Reply

  17. Kristen on October 25, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    If you’re ever in Disneyland there is a restaurant called The Blue Bayou that looks out on the Pirates of Caribbean ride and they do the best Monte Cristo sandwich EVER. I get one every time I go to Disneyland. They serve theirs with powdered sugar and blackberry preserves. http://d23.disney.go.com/news/2009/07/blue-bayou-monte-cristo-sandwich/

    Reply

    • PCon on November 5th, 2012 at 12:11 pm

      That’s the first place I ever had this sandwich, so good! While listening to the crickets chirping and watching the “lightning bugs.”

      Reply

    • Jeff on April 14th, 2013 at 10:04 pm

      The first time I had a Monte Cristo like this was in Las Vegas at the cafe in the Flamingo Hilton. I’ve only found this AMAZING sandwich at a Bennigan’s Restaurant near my home in Appleton, WI. I’m definitely going to have to make this! Oh, and both times was served with a Raspberry preserve, but definitely going to try the maple syrup!

      Reply

  18. Ashley @ Wishes and Dishes on October 25, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Never had one of these sandwiches – think I’ll have to change that!!

    Reply

  19. Erin @ Dinners, Dishes and Desserts on October 25, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    Pure deliciousness with that syrup drizzled over the top!

    Reply

  20. Katie @ Blonde Ambition on October 25, 2012 at 2:20 pm

    One of the most popular brunch spots here in Sacramento has a Monte Cristo sandwich that looks truuuuly sinful. Your version sounds truly heavenly with the use of gruyere!!

    Reply

  21. carrian on October 25, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    THe site looks fantastic as well as the sandwich!! LOVE IT!

    Reply

  22. Anna @ Crunchy Creamy Sweet on October 25, 2012 at 6:18 pm

    I’m still trying to convince my Hubby that we should try monte christo. Maybe I should just show him these pictures :)

    Reply

  23. Karly on October 25, 2012 at 7:13 pm

    I love Monte Cristo sandwiches! I’ve never tried them with maple, but I’ve dipped them in jam before. I was skeptical, too. Sort of like IKEA’s swedish meatballs with jam. So weird and yet so right!

    Reply

  24. Ruth on October 25, 2012 at 7:52 pm

    Looks amazing!! Cheese and jam totally works!! It really looks unbelievable :)

    Reply

  25. Home Inspections Chicago on October 25, 2012 at 8:53 pm

    I can’t wait to try these… I just got some maple syrup as a gift from a friend who traveled to Maine!

    Reply

  26. Grazi on October 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Hi, I am from Brazil and you’ve got me wondering: What’s the difference between “sweet and salty” and “sweet and savory”? I Couldn’t find a good definition on the web…
    Great blog! Awesome recipes! Congrats!

    Reply

    • Michelle on October 26th, 2012 at 12:58 pm

      Hi Grazi, I don’t know that there’s a firm definition, but for me sweet/salty is most often things like chocolate with pretzels or peanuts, salted caramel, etc. Sweet/savory is more like pork loin with fruit preserves, ham and cheese with syrup (here). I hope that makes sense!

      Reply

  27. alex on October 25, 2012 at 11:29 pm

    absolutely my favorite sandwich..this looks heavenly

    Reply

  28. Cheryl on October 26, 2012 at 1:34 am

    I absolutely LOVE Monte Cristo sandwiches! I was so happy to see this post. I introduced my former boyfriend to these @ a Gunther Toody’s diner. :) He thought it was a totally strange idea, but fell in love with them too. :) Definitely always ham and turkey with some sort of swiss cheese, powdered sugar coating and fruit preserves, no syrup.

    Reply

  29. danielle on October 26, 2012 at 9:45 am

    Gorgeous new look — and i just love the fact that it is now fully compatible with Paprika, yay!

    Reply

  30. Christine on October 26, 2012 at 8:58 pm

    Wow – I just made these as well. Except, I used raspberry preserves instead of the maple; absolutely delicious!

    Reply

  31. LB on October 27, 2012 at 11:36 am

    If you are ever at Disneyland, try the monte cristo there. They serve it at blue Bayou and Cafe Orleans… it is sooo good!!!!

    Reply

  32. Sophie on October 29, 2012 at 2:13 pm

    This looks absolutely delicious! I bet they would be even better if you had one of my vanilla surprise cupcakes as dessert!! Visit my blog bakingblondebites.com to get the recipe!! :D

    Reply

  33. Angie @ Big Bear's Wife on October 30, 2012 at 11:00 am

    why have a I never taken the time to make this!?!? It looks so good. I don’t know how I feel about maple syrup on it though.. we’ll see..

    Reply

    • Susan Lubell on November 3rd, 2012 at 1:54 pm

      The maple syrup definitely works!

      Reply

  34. Foodjunkie on October 30, 2012 at 6:25 pm

    I am not sure about the “most commonly served with either sweet fruit preserves or maple syrup” line. It may be a regional thing but I have had several of these tasty sandwiches over the years and not once have I seen it served this way. It may be awesome with syrup but not being a fan of sweet meals I will probably stick to the savoury version. Thanks for the sandwich recipe.

    Reply

  35. Susan Lubell on November 3, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    How yummy! When I was young, I loved getting a Monte Cristo Sandwich at a local restaurant. Their filling included turkey along with the ham and the cheese – delicious. Thanks for the recipe and the lovely trip down memory lane.

    Reply

  36. Doris Brady on November 4, 2012 at 2:49 pm

    My husband and I discovered this sandwich at Walt Disney World. The restaurant just beyond the entrance to main street served them. But, they were cut into 4 triangles and deep fried somehow. Served with fruit preserves. Delicious. I have never been to a restaurant since (30 years or more) that can duplicate that sandwich. If anyone knows the Walt Disney World recipe, please email it to me. I’d love to have it. Thanks for your recipe, I shall try it. Ahhhh, the memories.

    Reply

  37. Robert K on December 21, 2012 at 12:57 am

    I don’t know what Bennigan’s you’ve been to, but the one’s I’ve been to here in FL, have served the same Monte Cristos that Walt Disney World served, which would be the ham & cheese sandwiches battered and deep fried covered in powdered sugar and served with a side of raspberry preserves. But, alas, almost all the Bennigan’s here are closed now, and the Monte Cristos are no longer being served at Disney World, at least no where that I’ve found (not on the healthy menu list crusade). That was always the sandwich of choice for lunch on every visit for me, when they had it, the best for flavor and satisfaction.

    Reply

  38. linda on December 22, 2012 at 5:48 pm

    Had my first Monte Cristo in Monterey,CA twenty-five years ago.
    I’ve been hooked ever since. They made it with ham, baby swiss and
    turkey, with a side of raspberry preserves and pure maple syrup for dipping.

    Reply

  39. Terri on March 10, 2013 at 5:24 pm

    Benigans has a great Monte crispy that they serve with raspberry preserves.

    Reply

  40. Laura on April 13, 2013 at 3:37 pm

    The ONLY thing I used to ever order at Bennigan’s was the Monte Cristo, which was made with turkey. ham and two cheeses, deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar, served w/ a side of raspberries preserves. Never heard of dijon on a cristo before or maple syrup and have never had one with dijon or syrup on it ever. While this recipe looks like it might be tasty, it is not a true Monte Cristo and unfortunately, many Bennigan’s in FL have mostly closed. I did just recently dine at a Cheddar’s and they too make a Monte Cristo just like the ones I used to get a Bennigan’s. Mind you, these are delish, but not something you’d eat everyday as they do tend to go straight to your waist. So, for those Floridian’s missing the B’s Monte, or anyone interested in trying one of these awesome sandwiches, I suggest trying one at Cheddar’s. You won’t be disappointed and it is the proper way a Monte Cristo is made and served. Here’s their menu link. Enjoy. http://www.cheddars.com/menus/clearwater-fl-menu/

    Reply

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