Saturday, December 11, 2010

Baked Brie - A Holiday Must!

Whether you need something to bring to a Holiday Party, just want a festive appetizer, or a romantic dinner for two, a baked brie is always a wonderful choice. All wrapped up, just like a present, it's great for the holidays, or really, anytime. The Physicist and I make this year round, and I just change my stuff for the top (cutting out little leaves in the fall, or flowers in the spring). It's easy enough to pull together on a weeknight, and always dazzles.

You'll need:

1 Puff Pastry Sheet, thawed

1 Wheel of Brie

2-3 Tbsp. of Jam or Preserves or Fruit Butter

1-2 Tbsp. Sliced Almonds (optional)

1 Egg

Preheat oven to 400 degrees

On a cookie sheet (or a foil covered cookie sheet), lay out your sheet of puff pastry, and dock it. Docking is lightly pricking the entire surface with a fork. It's to keep the puff pastry from over puffing in the oven.

With a spoon, smear your fruit preserve in a circle in the center of the dough. I used Marion Blackberry here, but pumpkin or apple butters, raspberry, strawberry, or whatever is also delicious. I try to think "seasonal".

Sprinkle the almonds over your jam circle. You don't need the almonds, but I find them a nice touch. You can also use dried fruit, or nothing at all.

Now, slap your brie wheel right down on top of the preserves. There really isn't a right side up.

Now, wrap up the brie like a present, folding in the corners and sides. So, as not to make a thick pile of dough, tear off some of the corners. You can use them to decorate in the next step.
Once it's all wrapped up, flip it over, so the smooth side is up.

Use your extra pieces of dough to decorate the top. I got carried away, and somehow managed to make a rose. You don't have to do that. Use little cookie cutters, or just make a bow shape with your extra dough, or, if you're ambitious, make some holly leaves and berries. Even a pile of little pieces of dough on top can be lovely.
Beat an egg, and brush it over the top and sides of the pastry.
Bake in the oven for about 20-30 minutes, until golden brown.

While it's baking, start prepping what you dip in it. You can just serve it with crackers, but The Physicist and I like to serve it with fruit. We slice up a Granny Smith Apple, and wash up some raspberries, but any fruit, or bread, or whatever you'd like to dip in cheese is good.
This is what it looks like when it comes out of the oven. All golden brown and lovely. Carefully lift it off with a spatula and set it down on a plate.

We like to drizzle the whole thing with honey when serving it with fruit, because it just adds another decadent level.
Wait until you're serving it to cut into it, because the moment when the knife goes in, the warm, velvety, melted cheese starts pouring out in it's gooey glory. And no one wants to miss that moment, so make sure everyone is watching.

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