The first time I attempted to make these it was a total disaster. I constructed the muffins then as I put them in the oven I caught the muffin tin on the oven shelf, the whole thing fell out of my hands and landed upside down on the oven door !!
You can read about it here if you want to see how the disaster turned out.
Yesterday we had a visitor at lunchtime chez nous and I decided to try making them again. It was either grim determination not to be beaten by mere muffins, or misguided optimism. As it happened, they turned out fine. In fact they were yummy.
A croque madame is essentially a toasted ham and cheese sandwich with with some béchamel sauce and an egg in it – croque monsieur being the same thing but without the egg. The idea for the muffins came from the totally charming series that was on TV last year featuring the cook Rachel Khoo.
To make six muffins you take six slices of thin white bread – the Mother’s Pride type of sliced bread that my dad used to have for his sandwiches every day of his working life. Much to my amazement you can buy this stuff in French supermarkets and in fact you can even buy it with the crusts already cut off, which is perfect for the recipe as that’s exactly what you need.
First you make a fairly stiff béchamel sauce by melting 1 tablespoon of butter in a small pan, stirring in 1 tablespoon of flour and cooking for a minute until the mixture (roux) is smooth, then stirring in 200ml of milk. Cook until it thickens and add a good pinch of grated nutmeg and a teaspoon of Dijon mustard.
Next you melt some butter in a small saucepan and then brush it over both sides of the bread, having first made the bread thinner by rolling it with a rolling pin. Use each slice of bread to line a hole of a muffin tin.
Put a bit of ham in the bottom of the muffin and add the yolk of an egg with a little of the white. (If you use a whole egg the muffin will be too full of egg and there will be no room for the sauce.)
Spoon about a tablespoon of the béchamel sauce on top and sprinkle some grated cheddar, gruyere or comté cheese on top of that. Brush the edges of the bread with more melted butter if you have any left.
Bake for 15 mins at 180°C if you like your egg runny or 20 mins if you like it cooked.
One muffin per person makes a small snack – it is after all only one egg and one slice of bread. Two muffins with a little salad makes a nice lunch. Two muffins each with chips makes a really good treat !!
If you want to see how it’s done properly here’s Rachel Khoo herself showing you how :