Make The Best Croque Madame Sandwich With One Store-Bought Swap

French cuisine is well-known for its utterly rich sweet-and-savory recipes, making good use of a longstanding mastery of all things dairy. The iconic croque madame sandwich (which Dale Levitsky put his own spin on) is a heavenly display of French decadence consisting of butter, cream, and cheese in luxurious proportions. The process of making a croque madame is essentially stacking open-faced sandwiches and finishing with a fried egg. Sturdy slices of crusty white bread are layered with ham, a cheesy bechamel called mornay sauce, and more cheese, stacked, and finished with another layer of gooey bechamel and a fried egg. If this doesn't sound decadent enough, croissants are the store-bought bread swap to provide the ultimate upgrade.

Croissants will be the buttery, rich foundation that'll only heighten the savory, gooey goodness of the croque madame's other ingredients. Plus, croissants are some of the most famous French pastries, so you won't lose any authenticity. Of course, a flakey, delicate croissant won't hold up under the weight of a cheesy cream sauce, ham, and a fried egg, so you'll make an easy modification by flattening and searing it in the skillet you would've used to grill the crusty bread.

Smashing the croissant will condense all of those flakey layers into a sturdy, crispy foundation with the help of butter and honey. You'll still get the pleasure of flakes shattering with each bite, only this time accompanied by the chewy, creamy, runny layers of ham, cheese, and a fried egg.

Tips for croissant croque madame

While you might buy croissants with the intention of devouring them with a cup of coffee, there's always the possibility of buying more than you can eat fresh. Luckily, stale croissants are the perfect candidates for croque madame sandwiches. Whether they're dried out or weighed down by humidity, smashing and toasting them in butter will revive and repurpose them into the crispiest, lightest croque madame sandwich bread. A croque madame is among the most ambitious ways to refresh a croissant.

The butter will help crisp the croissants and revive their savory richness, and the honey acts as the cement to hold their shape under the weight of the other ingredients. Honey also makes the perfect complement to this otherwise ultra-savory sandwich. This croissant swap requires a slight change in the typical order of preparation. Crusty bread is sturdy enough to add to the other ingredients over the skillet to toast until crispy, but with croissants, you will first need to smash and sear them before continuing with the typical layering.

Searing is a quick, hot method that'll create a crispy char. You'll want to turn the heat down as you layer the ham, bechamel, and cheese. Then, you can top the open-faced croissant sandwich to melt the cheese. Choose a large skillet so you can make two open-faced sandwiches simultaneously before stacking them. You'll use the same skillet to fry the egg for the pièce de résistance.