Tis the season… for parties, decorating, guests, dinners, shopping, so much to do and never enough time-plus plenty of opportunities to bring something truly wonderful to an event! The best part is, this is pretty easy and takes less than an hour to make. You can keep the simple ingredients around and be ready to impress in a flash. This is such a beautiful dish I get requests for it every year at my annual ‘Ring in the Season’ event.
Brie en Croute
The toppings used with the brie are as variable as your imagination, but keep in mind when taking this to a party there are lots of food alergies (nuts especially) when you pick your combinations. I love the combination with nuts and fruit and the warm cheese, but sometimes you have to make substitutions when cooking for a group.
Puff Pastry (store bought, its just way too time consuming to make)
Brie (smaller parties I use a 4-6 inch round)
Apples or other fillings (cranberries, figs, etc.)
Sugar and spices (nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamon, allspice)
Egg (for egg wash)
Pre heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice two apples as you would for an apple pie, mix with 1 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp nutmeg (or use 1 1/2 tsp of apple pie spice), 1/4 cup of brown sugar, a pinch of salt a squeeze of lemon juice, then saute with 1/2 a stick of butter for five minutes till fruit softens and the sugar melts to a nice syrup. remove from heat and set aside. There should be about a cup and a half of filling, if more it may not all fit in the puff pastry.
Alternative fillings, when I last made this I used dried figs, chopped and simmered them in port wine with cardamon and a clementine orange. Fresh cranberries can be used in the same way simmering them just as you would a cranberry sauce. Even canned pie filling can be used if you need to save a few minutes.
Carefully slice the top of the brie off, you can skip this step if in a rush and just put some slashes in the top rind.
Un fold the puff pastry and place in a lightly greased, oven safe, pie plate. Place brie in center of pastry. Pour filling over the top, pull the corners of the pastry up around the brie and pinch the edges together to seal. This will create a shape a bit like a monsignor’s hat.
If you have a bit more time, unfold the next sheet of pastry and use cookie cutters to create shapes. lay these over the top of the sealed brie covering any thin spots and creating a nice pattern. Create an egg wash by seperating the white into a small bowl and adding a tablespoon of water, mix this together with a fork then paint the top of the brie and your cutout shapes. In the picture I used snow flakes and sprinkled with edible silver stars for a bit of sparkle. If you are feeling creative you can color the egg wash and ‘paint’ the cutouts different colors, just keep in mind they will darken when baking.
Bake for 15-20 minutes watching for the top to nicely brown. Turn the brie in the oven after 10 minutes to ensure even browning. Serve warm.
Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all,