Mallorca Sandwiches

Pressed Mallorca with Ham and Cheese

Ham and cheese sandwiches are a culinary ‘given’ in the Western world. Ever since the fourth Earl of Sandwich refused to leave his spot in the poker table, we have been eating and improving upon the simple concept of placing meats and condiments between two pieces of bread. The simple ham and cheese combination evolved into some of the most popular sandwich varieties, from the French croque monsieur, to the (now retro) Montecristo, to the Cuban. Puerto Rico has its own take: ham and cheese pressed on a mallorca roll, with a mandatory sprinkle of powdered sugar.

If you have caught any food travel shows about Puerto Rico in the Food Network or Travel Channel, it is very likely you have seen La Bombonera.  La Bombonera is a very popular Old San Juan bakery famous for mallorcas, these soft, sweet, and buttery rolls that can be eaten by themselves or used as the base for a sandwich. Mallorcas came to Puerto Rico through Spain’s Balearic Islands settlers – while we name these rolls after their place origin (the island of Mallorca), they are known as ensaimadas in Spain, the rest of Latin America, and the Phillipines.

Mallorcas

Most bakeries in Puerto Rico offer mallorcas to be eaten in all their yeasty fullness, or sliced and pressed into either toast, a grilled cheese sandwich or a full ham/egg/cheese sandwich. My favorite growing up was the simple mallorca toast. The mallorca was sliced in half, buttered and sugared on the inside, pressed, then sprinkled with extra sugar on top. The crunchy topping contrasted to the tender, buttery center. Although I don’t go out of my way to buy mallorcas, when I get them I usually make sandwiches.  I am partial to cheddar and butter on mine; Eduardo prefers mayonnaise and Swiss cheese.  Either way, it’s a satisfying, sweet, and savory bite.

In addition to La Bombonera, two other favorite stops for mallorca sandwiches are Panaderia Pepín in Guaynabo and Hato Rey, and Ricomini, a growing PR West coast based chain.  I swear by Pepín (where I got the mallorcas in the pictures) but Eduardo insists that Ricomini’s are better. I think we’ll have to make it to the Ricomini Bayamón outpost, buy a couple, and finally settle that argument (ha!).

If a visit to Puerto Rico is not in the cards for you, Serious Eats published a recipe successfully tested by my high school friend Beto, who kindly provided this picture of the finished product.  Beto also went to college in Louisiana, where he still lives, and regularly documents his adventures eating lunch through the greater New Orleans area on his Foodspotting profile.  It’s definitely worth checking out.

Beto's Mallorcas

 

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Author:Adriana

Adriana is a financial analyst by day, avid home cook in the evenings, and food blogger and runner in the strange hours between those two. When not in the kitchen concocting meals and stories to pass around, she is out looking for the next great bite (or the ingredients to make it at home), checking what's new at the market, or planning a trip around great food and wine.

10 Responses to “Mallorca Sandwiches”

  1. March 23, 2012 at 8:00 am #

    Ooh, ham and cheese on sugared bread? Sounds intriguing!

  2. March 24, 2012 at 12:43 pm #

    Guau! Lo que daría por uno!… Los de la Mayorquina en el Viejo San Juan me encantan!

  3. March 24, 2012 at 2:39 pm #

    I wanna try it!
    Never had ham and chesse “sandwich” with powder sugar, must be delicious!

  4. March 24, 2012 at 6:22 pm #

    This is really unique and intriguing. I bet the taste is pure joy.

  5. March 26, 2012 at 5:37 pm #

    That actually looks really good! Is it kind of like an eggy bread? I can only imagine how wonderfully sweet and savory it must be with the cheese and ham and then the soft and chewy bread around it. Yummy!

    • March 26, 2012 at 5:42 pm #

      It’s eggy, sweet, and fatty enough… I really should try baking them, but get lazy with so many options within a half-hour radius from my house.

  6. March 26, 2012 at 6:25 pm #

    Fascinating! I love learning about the different takes on similar foods throughout different cultures.

  7. March 30, 2012 at 1:19 am #

    Oh my, Adriana! These look amazing!

    I’ve given you the “Versatile Blogger Award!” Please stop by my blog to “Pick it up.” http://www.createamazingmeals.com/2012/03/versatile-blogger-award.html

    Congratulations!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Mallorca Bread Pudding - Great Food 360˚ - August 5, 2013

    […] for Puerto Rico Restaurant Week, one of their featured desserts was a bread pudding made with mallorcas (ensaimadas) – a sweet enriched bread.  I didn’t get to try it but my sister did and […]

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