There was a time in my life before Monte Cristo waffles, and a time after. Before, the Monte Cristo sandwich and the waffle existed as two separate, much-loved brunch entities. One satisfied certain pre-noon desires for savory, the other for syrup-drenched sweet. After, they were one.
One glorious stack of crispy golden waffles stuffed with the ham and cheese of a Monte Cristo, then dusted with powdered sugar and topped with spoonfuls of raspberry sauce. Oh, yes. There is no going back.
If you haven't had the pleasure of diving into a Monte Cristo sandwich lately, let me refresh your memory. This is a ham and cheese sandwich that gets dipped in egg batter and fried, French-toast-style. A coating of powdered sugar goes over top, and there's also usually some berry jam nearby for dipping the crunchy corners.
As you can see, it's not a far leap from that knife-and-fork sandwich to Saturday morning waffles. I chop the ham into little pieces, and mix both ham and cheese right into the waffle batter. Gruyère is my top choice for cheese, but Emmental is a close second. Swiss also makes a perfectly wonderful stand-in if the other options aren't available.
The warm raspberry sauce is a crucial component. Its tart, lightly sweet flavor is what cuts through the richness of the waffles. It also comes together in minutes, so don't worry that you'll be kept from your waffles for too long. A good jar raspberry jam or preserves on the table would also do the job nicely.
This might sound blasphemous, but I think I might prefer these waffles over actual Monte Cristo sandwiches. For indecisive people like me who can never bear to choose between two darlings, it's the most perfect breakfast imaginable.
Monte Cristo Waffles with Warm Raspberry Sauce
Serves 4 to 6 (Makes 8 thick Belgian-style waffles or about 16 regular waffles)
For the warm raspberry sauce: 2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries
1/4 cup sugar, plus more to taste
1/4 cup water
For the waffles:
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
3 teaspoons baking powder
2 tablespoons sugar
2 1/4 cups whole milk
2 large eggs
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted
6 ounces deli ham, diced small (about 1 1/2 cups diced)
3 ounces (1 cup) shredded Gruyère cheese
Powdered sugar, to serve
To make the raspberry sauce, combine the raspberries, sugar, and water in a small saucepan and set over medium heat. Bring to a simmer and cook until the raspberries break down into a thick sauce, 5 to 8 minutes. Taste and stir in more sugar if desired. Remove from heat.
To make the waffles, whisk together the flour, salt and baking powder. In a separate bowl, whisk together the sugar, milk, eggs, and melted butter. Pour the wet ingredients over the dry ingredients and stir with a spatula to form a fairly thick batter. Stir in the ham and shredded cheese.
Warm your waffle iron. When the iron is ready, scoop enough batter into each square to just about cover the square. Cook until dark golden, typically about 4 to 5 minutes depending on your waffle iron. Transfer the cooked waffles to a cooling rack or serve immediately. Continue cooking the remaining batter.
To serve, put a spoonful of powdered sugar in a strainer and gently sift the sugar over the tops of the waffles. Serve with the raspberry sauce.
Waffles will keep refrigerated for a week and are best reheated in the toaster.