For the past two years, I have created a special Valentine’s Day grilled cheese involving strawberries. This year, I wanted to do something different, I wanted to do something I had yet to tackle. For every single grilled cheese sandwich I have cooked, they have been the main course. They have been the star. Not this time. Not this Valentine’s Day. For the first time in my 3+ years of creating and preparing grilled cheese sandwiches, I would make a dessert grilled cheese sandwich, featuring gourmet chocolate. The pressure was on to create something spectacular. I was up to the challenge…even if I still included strawberries. (It was Valentine’s Day after all!)
On a side note, I thought I would give everyone an update on GrilledShane the person. I don’t talk about myself a lot on this blog so I thought I would catch everyone up on my life. GrilledShane the culinary student is currently taking just one class, Basic Food Preparation, the first class where I am actually in the kitchen. Last week in class I started practicing my knife cuts, leaving with all 10 of my fingers in tact (and not bloody). I would say that that is quite the accomplishment.
GrilledShane the cashier is on his way to moving up. In no time, I will be promoted to lead cashier, with more responsibilities and a raise. When leaving my webmaster job, the goal was to move beyond cashier. That plan seems to be coming true a lot sooner than expected. Sure, I won’t be management just yet, but at the same time, I am no longer just a cashier.
Finally, GrilledShane the man is still out there searching for GrilledShane the lady. Sure, I have been on dates and gone out with various Jewish women, but I have yet to find her. I have yet to truly connect. If you, random visitor, know of any single, Jewish women in the Cleveland/Ohio region of this great country, please, send them my way. Mark Zuckerberg used Facebook to find women so why can’t I use my love of grilled cheese to do the same? It would make for a great story…and a very happy GrilledShane.
- Melted Chocolate (El Rey Caoba Milk 41%)
- Fresh Strawberries
- Graham Crackers
- Vermont Creamery Mascarpone Cheese
the cheese: mascarpone
For some reason, the minute I thought dessert grilled cheese, I thought mascarpone cheese. Maybe subconsciously I have connected mascarpone with dessert, I don’t know why but it was a good choice. It actually took some hunting to find plain mascarpone, but thankfully I found some great vermont creamery brand cheese.
Not long ago, the word mascarpone would draw quizzical looks. Nowadays, the distinctly Italian-sounding name is the only thing obscure about this velvety, rich cream cheese. One story suggests that a visiting Spanish dignitary in the 16th-century tasted fresh mascarpone in Italy and proclaimed it mas que bueno — better than good! In the early 1990?s, as U.S. chefs discovered the dessert phenomenon tiramisu, its chief ingredient — mascarpone — began to grow in popularity. (VermontCreamery.com)
There is nothing better than freshly melted chocolate. Ooey gooey and oh so yummy. I had hoped to purchase meltable chocolate from Malley’s, a local chocolate shop that I worked at many years ago. However, I forgot it was Valentine’s Day. When I traveled to the one next to the local Whole Foods, not the one I worked at, the line was long and the clerks were all 90+, with one foot already in the grave. The store was picked over and I couldn’t find any meltable chocolate. I decided to return to Whole Foods and just buy the chocolate there.
On a table was El Rey Caoba Milk Chocolate discs sitting there waiting to be purchased. I didn’t know much about the particular chocolate I was buying, all I knew was that it smelled good and I wanted it.
After searching the Internet a bit, I realized that El Rey is the brand of chocolate and caoba is a tree that shades the cacao plant. There is 41% cacao in this particular chocolate, which I have read is a high amount for a milk chocolate. Either way, I would imagine you could use any of your favorite meltable chocolate and this grilled cheese would still be great.
Yes, we do have a microwave, but for some reason my mind was set on using a makeshift double boiler to melt the chocolate. Simply put a pot of water on the stove, boil, place bowl with chocolate on top and melt.
With as little chocolate as we were melting, it took only a couple minutes. The smell wafting through the kitchen was absolutely amazing.
I had originally thought of only drizzling a small amount of chocolate into the mascarpone. However, once I got mixing, I decided to use about half of the melted chocolate. It was the perfect amount.
When I mention s’mores, what do you think? Campfires? Being young again? Snack time at school? The minute I thought about doing a chocolate grilled cheese with mascarpone, for some reason, I immediately thought of s’mores and graham crackers. I believed the crackers would add a nice crunch to a smooth, creamy grilled cheese.
I wanted to create something original for this particular Valentine’s Day. I kept pondering what final ingredient to include within this grilled cheese, in addition to the chocolate, mascarpone and graham crackers. It needed one more ingredient and all I could think of was strawberries, strawberries, strawberries. I wanted to avoid strawberries. I used strawberries. And then drizzled chocolate on top of them.
We had challah at home to make “french toast cookies” for my nephews so I thought why not use it for this dessert grilled cheese sandwich? I always think of challah as a sweet bread, so why not use it for a sweet, dessert grilled cheese?
I only toasted the bread on a pan in some Land O’ Lakes butter for a few minutes, just to get it browned. I sprinkled on some cinnamon sugar and that was the end of the cooking process. I prepared the rest of the sandwich cold.
the grilled cheese:
chocolate mascarpone grilled cheese: A
For the first time, I created a dessert grilled cheese sandwich. For a first attempt, I created a sweet (almost too sweet) dessert grilled cheese sandwich that would be great on any restaurant’s dessert menu. The only complaint I have is that the graham crackers did not add the crunch I was looking for. I believe that if I left the crackers in larger pieces, the crunch would have been there. The strawberries on the other hand, were perfect in combination with the chocolate mascarpone and a great addition. As a sign of good things, my father ate all of the sandwich. That means this was a good grilled cheese. It simply had all the right components and the perfect amount of chocolate. This will be hard to top the next time I try and create a dessert grilled cheese.
P.S. If you look closely, the challah kind of looks like a heart. Happy coincidence.