My repertoire of appetizers is very short. Probably because, when there’s any occasion which demands an appetizer, Baked Brie en Croûte is the only one I want to make.
Cheese. Pastry. Pecans. Cranberries. Sugar. Butter. Crackers.
What’s not to love? Before we proceed, however: a mild disclaimer.
I’m a Brie shaver.
I know there are purists out there who think removing the bloomy rind from a Brie is cheese apostasy. And that’s okay.
But, in my humble opinion, leaving the bloom on a Brie when it’s prepared as I have it here — en croûte with brown sugar, cinnamon and dried cranberries — is a travesty. The ammonia flavor of the bloom seems to overwhelm the sweet-tartness of the glazed craisins and the crisp lightness of the pastry.
If you’re a non-shaver, a rind-eater, a purist, I know this may be hard for you. But I think it’s for the best.
So shave it.
You can eat the bloom shavings separately if it makes you feel better.
- 8 oz Brie
- 1/4 cup butter
- 1 cup pecans, chopped
- 1 cup craisins (dried cranberries)
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- a pinch ground cinnamon
- 1 tablespoon heavy cream or milk
- 1 sheet puff pastry frozen
- 1 egg, beaten
- Remove the puff pastry sheet from its container and set it out on the counter to thaw. Place craisins in a small bowl, cover with water to soak and set aside.
- Unwrap your Brie wheel. Using a vegetable peeler or a sharp knife, shave off as much of the bloom — the soft white coating on the cheese — as possible without losing too much of the Brie. Discard the bloom, rewrap the Brie and put it back in the fridge.
- Melt butter in a skillet over medium-low heat. Add pecans. Stir constantly for about 5 minutes or until pecans are fully toasted.
- Stir the brown sugar, ground cinnamon and heavy cream or milk into the pecans. Drain the craisins, squeezing out any excess water, and stir them into the pecan mixture.
- Continuing stirring over medium-low heat until the sugar begins to melt and the nuts and craisins are well-coated. Remove from the heat.
- Place a silpat or a sheet of parchment paper on your baking sheet and unfold the thawed puff pastry sheet onto the silpat. If you have any cracks in the pastry, seal the gaps together with gentle fingertips.
- Take your Brie wheel out of the fridge and place it in the center of the pastry sheet. Spoon the pecan-craisin mixture into a mound right on top of the Brie.
- Bring the ends of the pastry together and seal by pressing the edges together with a dab of water. You may trim off any excess pastry and use for decoration: i.e., ribbons, leaves, shapes, etc. (Take care not to leave gaps in the pastry or your cheese will escape during baking!)
- Using a pastry brush, coat the Brie with a wash of beaten egg. Return the Brie to the fridge to chill until ready to bake.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.
- Put the chilled Brie into the oven and bake for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. (If the Brie begins to bulge around the base, remove it as soon as the pastry is baked to prevent the cheese from leaking.)
- Let stand for about 10 minutes to firm slightly. Cut into wedges and serve warm with water crackers and champagne.
- Although you can theoretically adapt this recipe for larger wheels of Brie, I find that they never get properly baked in the center until the edges are almost liquified and the pastry is overdone. If you need more or larger servings, I suggest making two (or more) 8 oz. Brie instead of using a larger size.
Cheesy goodness to you,
This is absolutely a wonderful appetizer, so scrumptious it’s almost impossible to consider it as just an “appetizer!”
There’s a bonus to this dish Abby failed to mention. Brie is an excellent cheese for those who suffer from lactose intolerance. Yeah!