I have written about one of the best bites I had last year when I was visiting Barcelona before, the delectable Bikini Sandwiches at Chef Charles Abellan’s Tapas 24. Who doesn’t like a grilled cheese sandwich with fresh mozzarella, salty Iberico ham and black truffle? Worth every penny of its 8 euro cost.
Though I have made them a few different ways in the past, I wanted to create them for our New Year’s dinner in honor of our Ruthie’s Rolling Cafe owners and friends Ashlee and Chris Kleinert who were joining us for the evening. I was planning on doing the same preparation I usually have, thick cut white bread with lots of cheese, ham and truffle, but while picking up bread at my local Central Market I found the most adorable mini-brioche loaves, sliced neat and begging to be used for grilled bikini sandwiches.
Though the original was divine, the addition of eggy, buttery brioche takes this little bit of cheesy goodness to a whole new level. And, the size is just right for a pre-dinner snack, paired with your favorite bubbly, without feeling too guilty.
Mini Brioche Bikini Sandwiches
Ingredients: (for 8 sandwiches)
16 slices of mini brioche bread
6 ounces of fresh mozzarella, sliced into 8 slices
8 slices, thinly sliced Iberico ham. If you can’t find Iberico, use serrano, if you can’t find serrano use prosciutto (just don’t tell the Spanish you used Italian ham)
4 ounces truffle paste, Central Market, Jimmy’s Food Store or other specialty stores have several different brands, we use the truffle and porcini paste in the chef’s prepared area at Central Market.
Black pepper and a touch of salt
Lightly butter the outside of each slice of bread, lightly – there is a lot of butter in the bread already. Turn the bread over and lightly spread the truffle paste on each slice of bread. Then on 8 slices layer on the cheese and a slice of ham. Top with the coordinating slice and lightly press together. Place a large non-stick pan over medium heat on the stove then lay two or three sandwiches in the pan, however many will fit, and cook for 2-3 minutes until one side is very toasted, then flip and do the same on the other side. Cook until crisp and the cheese is melted. Remove from the pan and lay on a paper-towel to drain a bit, then place on a serving dish and follow up with the remaining bikini sandwiches. Then serve immediately while still nice and hot and gooey. You can slice in half on the diagonal, if desired, but we liked the way they looked whole.