You need to know something before you go turning up your nose at this Grilled Cheese and Chocolate Sandwich recipe: many Puerto Ricans drink hot chocolate with a chunk of cheese melted in the bottom. It’s just what we do. So, if you want to be all “intolerant” and whatnot, go ahead. You’re going to totally miss out on something revolutionary.
Wait. Grilled Cheese and Chocolate?!?!
Yessss. Grilled cheese and chocolate. I know the two may not make sense in your head, but once you taste these sandwiches, you’ll feel my flow. I promise. Your belly will thank me.
In Puerto Rican homes- at least all the ones I’ve been in- pouring molten hot chocolate over chunks of mild cheddar cheese is totally normal. What’s more, scooping the gooey cheese onto soda crackers or toast is the only way to finish the treat. Ask any of your Puerto Rican friends and they’ll tell you it’s true. Seems like it all boils down to the love of the classic sweet and savory pairing. In today’s chaotic climate, I need something that brings me a sense of comfort and normalcy. But, I also wanted to put a twist on it. Since it’s a wee-bit too hot for hot cocoa here in Texas, I’m morphing this favorite after-school, chilly day treat into a midday meal.
Grilled cheese is always a good idea, but grilled cheese with chocolate?!?! I’m expecting my Nobel Prize any day now.
What You’ll Need to Make Grilled Cheese and Chocolate Sandwiches
For creating a crisp, buttery exterior on your grilled cheese, you’ll need room temp unsalted butter. The pièces de résistance is a bar of Chocolate Cortés and a 1/2-1 pound of Queso de Papa (or mild cheddar cheese).
That’s it and that’s all. Four ingredients are all that’s between you and one of the most indulgent sandwiches you’ve ever made.
A cast iron pan or griddle and a spatula for flipping are the only other required tools. Well, those and your hands and mouth. You’ll definitely want those later.
Prep your Ingredients
Queso de Papa is what mild Longhorn Style cheddar cheese is called in Puerto Rico (and other Spanish speaking countries). It’s name translates to potato cheese, but don’t ask me why it’s called that; it’s neither made from potatoes, nor does it look like a potato. Longhorn cheese gets its English name from the shape it’s cut into. It’s the same thing as regular mild cheddar cheese.
To stay true to the drink that inspired this recipe, use queso de papa or queso de bola (“cheese ball”, again, don’t ask), which is gouda. I prefer the former because it’s what we always use in our hot chocolate. The latter has a milder flavor. If you want a sharper twang on the palate, which would also highlight the chocolate even more, use a sharp or dare I suggest an extra-sharp cheddar. *gasp* You vixen you.
Use your cheese grater to shred the cheese. A fine grate is okay, but I prefer to use a grater with medium-sized holes. The chocolate will have ample time to melt if I use a thicker shred of cheese.
Feel free to pre-shred your cheese and keep it in the bowl (covered with plastic wrap), or in a food storage bag, in the fridge. Don’t, however, give into the temptation to use a bag of pre-shredded cheese. The potato starch they coat that type of cheese in affects the way the cheese melts. You want maximum gooey-ness. If your kiddos are stuck at home with you, give them the all-important task of shredding the cheese.
Set your grated queso de papa to the side.
Chocolate Cortes- What is it?
First and foremost, you are pronouncing this “cho-co-LAH-tay” and not the way you would typically pronounce chocolate, right? Right.
Chocolate Cortés is a popular brand of chocolate from the Dominican Republic which was exported to Puerto Rico in the 1930s. From there it became so popular, the founder, Don Pedro Cortés Forteza decided to build a second processing plant in Puerto Rico.
The bars of chocolate Cortés are flecked with sugar crystals which, when the bar is melted, provide the perfect amount of sweetness. You are probably better off ordering it from the website directly as I, personally, have never seen it anywhere but Hispanic grocery stores. When in doubt, head to your local Latin market. If locating it becomes a chore, use your favorite brand of sweet chocolate instead.
However, I highly recommend making this with the OG bar of Cortés at least once in your lifetime.
Chop the chocolate up with your chef’s knife. Usually, one bar is good for 2 sandwiches. If you’re a die-hard chocolate lover, though, you can use more.
Shoot for shards of chocolate as opposed to big chunks. Big chunks will take longer to melt and may leave you with über-dark bread. When in doubt, go smaller.
Set your chopped chocolate to the side next to your cheese.
Prepare your Grilled Cheese and Chocolate Sandwiches
Pan sobao is the backbone of our sandwich. Since Wal-Mart or Puerto Rican bakeries are the only place that may sell them in your area, I recommend making your own. But, if push comes to shove and you don’t have time (or you don’t feel like it), a one-pound loaf of soft-crust Italian or French bread, challah, or brioche can act as stand-ins.
Cut the bread into 1″ thick slices. The slices need be thick enough to hold the weight of the cheese and chocolate without so thick that they prevent them from melting. Use your serrated bread knife to do this. It’s best to always use a serrated knife when cutting breads since they don’t tear it.
Now that the bread, cheese, and chocolate are ready to go, you can begin assembling and grilling your sandwiches.
Heat your frying pan over moderate heat. You should be able to hold your hand a few inches from the surface of the pan for 10 seconds without it feeling painfully hot.
While you’re waiting for the pan to heat, butter one side of each bread slice.
My Trick for Filling the Grilled Cheese and Chocolate Sandwiches is Genius!
Once the pan temp is just right, place two slices of bread into your pan- buttered-side down- the bottom of one nestled against the other. You’re making two sandwiches right now. I nestle my slices this way to avoid losing too much cheese or chocolate when I’m covering the unbuttered sides of the bread. No gap means reduced loss of valuable cheese or chocolate.
Sprinkle a generous handful (about a 1/4-1/2 cup) of cheese onto both slices of bread.
Sprinkle anywhere from 2 tablespoons to 1/4 cup (this will make it really sweet, though) onto the cheese. Try to disperse the chocolate shards amongst the cheese shreds. Doing so allows the molten cheese to melt the chocolate completely.
Top the cheese and chocolate sprinkles with a second slice of bread- remembering to place the buttered-side up.
Cover to melt the cheese and chocolate completely
Depending on how evenly your stove heats, and how well your pan conducts that heat, you may or may not need to cover your pan to facilitate proper melting. If you do have to cover your pan, just do so with the lid or a sheet of aluminum foil.
Grill the sandwiches for 4-5 minutes per side, carefully flipping when the bottom is golden brown. If you find the bread is getting too dark, too quickly, lower the temperature. On the second side, prior to removing the sandwiches from the pan, make sure your cheese is full-on lava and whatnot. Gooey and melty is what you’re aiming for.
Sheer perfection this is.
Serve and enjoy!
Our daughter is a bona fide cheesehead. She’s figures herself a grilled cheese connoisseur, in fact. Because of her grilled cheese obsession, I paid close attention to her reaction the first time she bit into this Grilled Cheese and Chocolate sammie. She drooled, my friend! While she was drooling she stared at me wide-eyed. I told her if she promises to never do drugs I’ll make them for her everyday of her life. She promised.
Cheese pull time!
YASSSSS, cheese pull! YASSSSS!!!!
Enjoy your sandwiches fresh off the griddle with a cup of coffee.
Please share this homage to my Puerto Rican culture in sandwich form with your world, then pin it to make later!
Grilled Cheese and Chocolate Sandwiches
- heavy skillet
- 1 pound Pan Sobao, cut into 1" thick slices (or challah, brioche, Italian, or French bread)
- 1/2 stick unsalted butter at room temperature
- 8 ounces mild cheddar cheese (queso de papa) shredded by hand
- 2 bars (about 3 ounces) sweet chocolate (chocolate Cortés), plus more to taste cut into shards
- Heat a large frying pan over moderate heat. You should be able to hold your hand a few inches from the surface of the pan for 10 seconds without it feeling painfully hot.
- While you're waiting for the pan to heat, butter one side of each bread slice. Set your oven to warm for holding your grilled sandwiches, if needed. Once the pan is hot, place two slices of bread into the pan- buttered-side down. Nestle the bottoms of the slices together so they are touching one another. This helps to avoid losing too much cheese or chocolate when covering the unbuttered sides of the bread.
- Sprinkle a generous handful (about a 1/4-1/2 cup) of cheese onto both slices of bread. Follow that with 2 tablespoons-1/4 cup of chocolate. The more chocolate you add, the sweeter the sandwich will taste. Be sure to disperse the chocolate shards amongst the cheese shreds. The cheese will assist in melting the chocolate completely. Top the cheese and chocolate sprinkles with a second slice of bread- making sure to place the buttered-sides up.
- Grill the sandwiches for 4-5 minutes per side, carefully flipping when the bottom is golden brown.
- If you find the cheese hasn't begun to melt after you flip the sandwiches, cover your pan with a lid or a sheet of aluminum foil. If, however, you find the bread is getting too dark, too fast, lower the stove's temperature. When grilled correctly, both the cheese and chocolate should be fully melted and gooey.
- Transfer the grilled cheese and chocolate sandwiches to a platter or sheet pan and keep them warm in the pre-heated oven while you grill any remaining sandwiches. Serve and enjoy immediately after grilling.
Try my other Puerto Rican faves: