The ham and cheese rolls or Roulé au fromage has to be one of France’s most well known snack. This recipe is cheesy, indulgent, addictive and delicious, all at the same time.
This typical French snack is made of hollow puff pastry rolls that are pre cooked, then filled with a cheesy Bechamel sauce which itself is garnished with cubes of farmhouse ham. when done each side of the rolls are stuffed with a nutty and flavoursome grated gruyere cheese to make this snack extra indulgent.
The great thing with these rolls is that they can be prepared in advance and warmed up whenever your guest arrives. word of warning though, they are pretty filling so don’t make them to big.
Before you try that recipe make sure you watch the video especially the part explaining how to make the hollow rolls of pastry. My english skills are limited so I would just say a video is worth a thousand words.
Essential cookware you need for this recipe:
Ingredients for 6 Rolls:
1 roll of premade pure butter puff pastry.
1 egg for the egg wash
50 grams of butter
50 grams flour
500 ml of full cream ( whole milk)
half an onion
1 small bay leaves
a pinch of cayenne pepper
150 gram of swiss gruyere cheese ( 50 grams or more for the bechamel and 100 grams to fill the side of rolls)
mushroom trimming ( optional)
100 grams of farmhouse ham cut in brunoise (a thick slice of ham cut in small cubes of 0.5 cm square)
season with a bit of salt and pepper
cooking temperature: 180 celsius (356 F) for 15 to 20 minutes to bake the pastry.
to warm up the rolls: bake 10 minutes at the same temperature just before serving
First off, I would like to point out that as always, before you start cooking, make you sure your food preparation is done: That implies weighing all of the ingredients, cut the ham in a large brunoise (small cubes of 1/2 a centimeter square) and grating your cheese.
Start by making and cooking the hollow rolls of puff pastry:
To do so, detail individual strips of puff pastry making sure the width of each strip matches the length of the pastry roll core you are using ( making it slightly narrower will help you grab the pastry core when it is time to remove it). Next ,depending on the type of puff pastry you use, you will surely have to dock ( prick the dough with a fork) your pastry to prevent it to puff too much.
Once the strips are detailed and docked. it is just a matter of rolling the dough over the pastry core ensuring you have a thick enough layer of dough for each roll. so basically keep rolling the dough around the pastry core and just before you reach the end of the strip of pastry, apply some egg wash on the dough and seal the roll using your fingers or a fork. Finally brush the roll all over with egg wash and decorate the top ( optional) by making simple lines or crosses with a fork on the top of the roll)
when all of your rolls are made, bake them in the oven at 180 celsius ( 356 F) for 15 to 20 minutes) or until they become nice and golden. When the rolls are cooked, take them out of the oven and let them cool down a little bit, then only remove the core. You can now leave the rolls to cool down gently and start making the bechamel sauce ( white sauce)
Preparing the flavoured bechamel sauce.
To fill these rolls we need to make a flavoured bechamel and to achieve that we will be employ the method that uses a cold roux mixed with warm milk. (That method allows us to flavour the milk first)
to do so, start by making a white roux with the butter and flour: use a medium size saucepan on low heat and start melting all of the butter. Once the butter is melted add all of the flour in and mix well with a wooden spoon. When the flour and butter are well incorporated and form a uniform mass, keep stirring and cook that mix (still on low heat) for 2 minutes maximum. As soon as the 2 minutes have passed, turn you heat off and leave the roux to cool down.
While the roux is cooling down, warm up the milk: pour all of the milk in another medium size saucepan put the pan on the stove on medium heat, then add the following ingredients to the milk:
- 1 bay leaf,
- half a a medium size onion pricked with 4 cloves,
- 1 pinch of pepper ( black or white),
- 1 pinch of salt,
- 1 pinch of cayenne pepper.
- (optionally you can add mushroom trimming or cut a few button mushrooms in small pieces and add them in the milk for more flavour)
As soon as the milk is warm turn you heat on low and leave the milk to simmer for 10 minutes. ( alternatively you can also bring the milk to the boil, turn the heat off as soon as it reach the boil, then let the milk infuse for ten minutes it’s up to you)
Once you roux has cooled down ( minimum is room temperature) put the saucepan with the roux on the stove then pass (pour) all of the milk over the roux using a sieve (making sure not bits of cloves falls into the milk). Turn the heat on medium – low and start warming up the mix of roux plus milk. as teh mix warms up, keep stirring with a whisk until the sauce thicken. Once the sauce has thickened and reached boiling point, turn the heat back on low, keep stirring and keep cooking the sauce for 2 to 3 minutes.
After 3 minutes, you should have and nice creamy and thick bechamel sauce. You can now turn the heat off. Immediately after you turn the heat off, stir continuously and add a handful ( or more) of grated gruyere cheese in the sauce. keep stirring until the cheese melts and is fully incorporated in the sauce. Next, add a handful of ham cube in the sauce and give it a final stir to incorporate the ham evenly. Your bechamel is now done. Just taste it to make sure the seasoning is right, if it is not, add a bit of salt to the sauce. You now need to leave the bechamel sauce to cool down totally before you can use it ( a lower than room temperature is recommended as it makes handling the sauce much easier)
Filling and dressing up the rolls
In order to fill the rolls you will need to use a piping bag with a large straight tips. To fill the rolls start by filling your piping bag with the cold bechamel sauce. Then in a tray of plate lay down some grated cheese, take one of the pastry rolls in one hand, hold it vertically, letting it rest it on the plate with the cheese. Hold the piping bag with your other hand, insert the tip of the piping bag at the top of of the roll and inject the sauce until it almost overflows. Turn now the roll on the other side and repeat the same process, filling it with bechamel sauce as much as you can. Finally let the roll stand horizontally and stuff each side with a generous amount of grated cheese. Repeat the process for each roll then reserve the rolls on a clean tray or plate until you are ready to serve them. These rolls can be kept in the fridge for several hours.
Serving the ham and cheese rolls.
Once you are ready to serve the ham and cheese rolls, preheat your oven at 180 Celsius / 356F then place the rolls on a baking tray then warm them up for 5 to 10 minutes (depending on how hot you want to serve them). At a minimum the cheese on the side of the rolls have to be melted.