I recently finished reading the mammoth novel The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas; it is so long, but so worth it. If you are at all into classic novels, and you have the patience/stamina for a long book, CoCM is one of the best I’ve ever read.
In culinary terms, a Monte Cristo, to be found on diner menus near and far, is a scrumptious ham and cheese sandwich that is dipped in an egg batter and fried. There are many variations on this sandwich, including switching up the meat, serving it open-faced, and serving it with anything from spicy mustard to powdered sugar and fruit. I’d like to add my rendition to the mix, as I think it’s pretty special.
This version replaces the ham with crispy bacon, and uses creamy Gouda in place of the traditional Swiss or Emmenthal cheese. I also top mine with sautéed apples and maple syrup. I guess it’s really only loosely based on the original…
In addition to taking inspiration from the classic Monte Cristo sandwich, this dish was also influenced by one that I had out for brunch at a local restaurant some time ago. I don’t remember exactly how theirs was put together, but the elements are basically the same – french toast, bacon, cheese, and apples. What I do remember is that it was served alongside a heaping pile of crispy, salty shredded hash browns, and after I cleaned my plate I happily slipped into a day-long food coma.
This is the ultimate sweet-salty-savoury breakfast stack. Every bite contains sweet, tart sautéed apples, salty bacon, creamy melted Gouda and fluffy cinnamon-scented french toast. To really push it over the top, I’ve drizzled the whole thing in rich, dark maple syrup. We only use real maple syrup in our house; it is admittedly more expensive, but the flavour is vastly superior to any imitation “syrup” you can buy so it’s totally worth it to me. Plus since the flavour is stronger, we tend to use less.
Putting this together definitely takes a couple of extra steps compared to just having the french toast and bacon by themselves, but it does pay off, I promise. Really, the only extra work involves sautéing apples, which takes about two minutes, and broiling the cheese, which takes less than two minutes. So you’re really looking at an extra 3-4 minutes of effort to transform your breakfast from good to life-changing. A small price to pay if you ask me.
- 4 slices thick-cut whole wheat bread
- 2 eggs
- ¼ cup milk
- Pinch of salt
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 Granny Smith apple, sliced into ⅛-inch slices
- 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
- 4 slices cooked bacon
- ¼ cup (4 tablespoons) grated Gouda, or other strong white cheese
- Maple syrup, for serving (optional)
- Preheat a frying pan over medium heat and oil the pan (or spray with cooking spray). In a shallow dish, beat egg with milk, salt and cinnamon. Dip both sides of bread slices in egg mixture. Cook in frying pan until golden brown, about 1-2 minutes per side.
- In a small frying pan or sauté pan, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the apples, sugar, cinnamon and lemon juice and cook until the apples are soft and the sugar begins to caramelize, about 2-3 minutes.
- Turn on the broiler in your oven. Place two pieces of the cooked French toast on a baking sheet or ovenproof dish. Top each piece with 2 slices of bacon and 2 tablespoons of the grated Gouda. Place under broiler until the cheese melts, watching carefully because they will go from perfect to burnt in seconds flat! Remove from oven.
- Transfer the toast-cheese-bacon pieces to two plates. Top each with an additional slice of French toast. Spoon half of the sautéed apples over each stack. Serve immediately with maple syrup.