Long before juice joints and farm-to-table salad bars made their way to campus dining halls, I found myself in a “heated” romance with my freshman dorm’s battered communal microwave. (Don’t worry, we weren’t exclusive.) Parked right next to that ticking time bomb was the vending machine of my 18-year-old dreams. It was stocked to the brim with every sodium-laden, powdered cheese junk food you could think of, with plenty of sugary treats to spare. Too bad I only had eyes for one thing, and my E.T. finger never failed me the many, many times I dialed myself up a Hot Pocket prize.
I must admit that while my culinary prowess has moved well beyond “Discard wrapper, heat and eat,” there are still some lingering food memories that I’ll never quite be able to shake. When I think of guilty pleasures, the ham and cheese, pepperoni pizza, and broccoli Cheddar varieties of Hot Pockets immediately come to mind. And while these days, no, I don’t get the urge to microwave a late-night Hot Pocket (or four) after a particularly raucous night, that doesn’t mean I don’t still crave those oh-so- delicious freshman flavors.
Thankfully, it’s beyond easy (and so much better!) to make these store-bought favorites at home. I’ve played around with different crusts and fillings over the years, and this one is definitely my gold standard. My recipe goes just a tad further than your typical chopped ham and grated cheese filling — it has a silky Cheddar sauce laced with salty specks of diced prosciutto that provide a hint of grown-up flair.
But let’s be real here, I’m not claiming to reinvent the wheel. This recipe may not win any James Beard awards, but that doesn’t mean it won’t give the vending machine a run for its money.