Ready or not, here it comes! December has arrived and holiday season is absolutely in full swing. The ongoing festivities beckon a cheerfulness that warms the chilly air, even for self-proclaimed cold wimps as myself. Each weekend, we’re observing cars galore parked in driveways of homes, signaling a jolly party within. Our own family created some merry memories hosting a couple of recent dinner parties. If all goes as planned, we’re hoping to host and attend a few more precious celebrations this season.
In honor of this magical season, I’m showing off the delectable little Brie en Croute that’s popular on my dinner party menu. Cute, isn’t it? Some of the best things come in little packages. This adorable appetizer is gigantic on flavor, and will take the edge off those ravenous tummies while your family/friends wait for dinner to be served. Beware of this phenomenal appetizer’s capacity to steal the show. Definitely be forewarned that the recipe will be highly requested. Either that, or you’ll be asked to make it every year thereafter. It could easily become your annual contribution.
Brie en Croute. It’s pronounced on-kroot, with gutteral and nasal-ish french accent. Don’t forget to roll the “r.” Keep repeating just for fun, oui? In French, “en croute” refers to anything delish baked in a pastry crust. That is indeed the sweet secret of this appetizer. On the outside, it appears to be some kind of rotund pastry thingy flanked by crackers. Oh, but once it is sliced into… that is the big reveal.
The first slice into the buttery, flaky pastry exterior reveals the warm silky Brie lying just beneath the surface. Resting on top of the soft Brie cheese is a gorgeous layer of toasted pecans and sweet raspberry preserves. We love how flexible this Brie en Croute is; select your favorite nut and fruit mixture, if pecans and raspberries aren’t your cup of tea. Almost any combination will result in a fabulous treat.
My favorite part about Brie en Croute? It is unbelievably easy to pull off. It’s quickly assembled ahead of time, to be baked up right before you need it. Just try to let it cool off a bit after baking before digging in, if you can wait. It’s awesome to have on the holiday menu, whether you’re the host or the guest. Or present it as a hostess gift and the recipient can bake it up when she needs a mouth-watering treat. Enjoy, and Happy Holidays!
RECIPE (10 servings)
1 sheet frozen puff pastry
1 whole wheel Brie, 8 oz
1/4 cup raspberry preserves (or other fruit)
1/4 cup pecans, toasted and chopped
1 beaten egg
turbinado (or coarse) sugar for garnish
assorted crackers for serving alongside
Defrost puff pastry about 15 minutes and unfold. Preheat oven to 375F and set rack in middle.
Slice off a thin layer of top rind only (we leave the rest of rind on, but feel free to remove it if desired.) Lay puff pastry sheet out on flat surface and roll out just a little bit if needed to cover entire Brie. Place Brie in center of the pastry. Top brie with nuts and preserves. Gently pull up edges of pastry, wrapping the Brie completely, and gather pastry edges at the top. Secure the gathered dough at top with kitchen twine. Double check that none of the Brie is exposed, carefully sealing the dough on all sides. Brush the beaten egg all over top and sides of pastry. Sprinkle with turbinado sugar.
Place Brie on parchment paper on cookie sheet. Bake 20 minutes or until pastry is a nice golden brown. Allow to cool at least 15 minutes before serving.
Serve with assorted crackers.
Note: Baked brie should cool a bit before serving, to allow it to regain a bit of shape. Otherwise, it will be too melted and spill out. Also, you can use extra puff pastry to make cut-outs for exterior design, if you’re going for an ultra special presentation.
*I’m excited that this recipe will be entered in this month’s Shine Supper Club contest, so check that out!