If you have never eaten a Monte Cristo, the idea of sweet jam and powdered sugar served with a savory meat-based sandwich may strike you as a little odd. But once you try one, you’ll understand why it has become a classic. The Monte Cristo is based on the French croque monsieur, a grilled ham and cheese sandwich made with a béchamel sauce. Usually it contains ham or turkey and cheese, and is dipped in an egg and milk mixture and fried. It is traditional to dust the sandwich and powdered sugar and serve strawberry jam on the side for dipping.
The exact origins of the Monte Cristo recipe are unknown, but from the 1930s to the 1960s many American cookbooks featured similar ones under different names, such as the French toasted sandwich. The Monte Cristo as we know it today was made popular in Disneyland, when it was featured on several of its restaurant menus starting in 1966.