GRILLED CHEESE GOES SWEET
Do you remember the first time you tasted a grilled cheese sandwich? I do – and it wasn’t pretty. My childhood experience consisted of two cellophane-wrapped slices of that ubiquitous neon cheese, sandwiched between white bread, all of which was promptly nuked in the microwave for a handful of seconds until the cheese had melted. What resulted wasn’t quite a “grilled cheese” as it was a soggy, gooey mass, bordered by a rigid crust that only a superhero could munch through.
It had my mouth watering every single time.
Of course, back then, I was easier to please. Anything made with processed cheese was welcome to my hungry belly. But when I eventually tasted a real grilled cheese, there was no turning back to this microwaved monstrosity. That crisp, buttery bread; the way the warm, creamy cheddar sticks to the roof of your mouth when you take your first bite. In those lunchtime or dinner moments, there are few things in the world that are simpler and more satisfying than a classic grilled cheese sandwich. Unless, of course, you have one for dessert.
This dessert grilled cheese still has all of the typical grilled cheese components, though in different forms: Angel food cake stands in for regular bread, brie takes the place of American cheddar cheese, and balsamic strawberries are added to sweeten the sandwich up even more. If you’re not making angel food cake from scratch, you can buy it pre-made from your local supermarket. Some markets will carry “angel food bars” which are essentially loaves, and these are easier to slice into uniform pieces than the characteristic ringed cakes. Angel food cake also grills beautifully, and because of its small crumb, yields an even golden-brown crust. Flexing your creative muscles can be very, very delicious.
For this recipe, you’ll need is a nonstick frying pan, a non-metal spatula and a pastry brush, the latter to use with the melted butter. If you don’t have a pastry brush, you can always blot the butter onto the cake with a paper towel. Just be gentle, and make sure you cover the slice’s entire surface.
STRAWBERRY GRILLED CHEESE
Yield: 4 servings
- 1 pint strawberries
2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar
1 teaspoon sugar
12 to 16 ounces brie cheese
8 slices angel food cake, about 1/2-inch thick
1/3 cup melted butter
Optional garnish: Powdered sugar, whipped cream
1. Rinse strawberries and pat dry, then slice in the halves or quarters, depending on size of strawberries. Place in a medium bowl with balsamic vinegar and sugar. Mix to coat, and set aside for 30 minutes, stirring once to redistribute syrup.
2. Slice rind off of brie. (This is a little tricky, given the brie can be gooey and hard to work with. Make sure the brie is chilled rather than room temperature, as will help a bit.) Once rind is removed, slice brie into 1/2-inch thick chunks.
3. Heat a nonstick frying pan over medium heat. Brush butter on one side of angel food cake slice, and position it butter-side down on a cutting board or other work surface. Arrange chunks of brie and a few balsamic strawberries on slice, then top with another slice of angel food cake, brushing the top with melted butter.
4. Grill sandwich in pan for about 3 to 4 minutes. Flip sandwich over, and use spatula to press down, to flatten slightly, so all ingredients meld together. Grill for an additional 3 to 4 minutes, or until slice is uniformly golden brown.
5. To serve: Cut each sandwich into two triangles, and serve warm with remaining balsamic strawberries. Garnish with powdered sugar and/or whipped cream, if desired.