Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Pastry Baked Brie

It's the last day of September. It's already the last day of September. The good news is that the best time of the year is quickly approaching; my three favorite holidays of the year are Halloween, Thanksgiving, and Christmas. The bad news is that I keep getting older and I have two horizontal wrinkles that form across my forehead when I raise my eyebrows. Last year there was only one. Two years ago there were zero. This means that my skin is progressively getting looser. It sucks. A word to you young gals out there, start the anti-aging products early and you won't be as depressed as I am right now. Oh, and sleep on your back.

Aging also means a less snappy metabolism so I can't eat as much as I'd like anymore. But, because I'm a "grown up" I can make my own decisions and eat whatever I want. I mean, I could eat ice cream for breakfast and no one (except my mirror) would yell at me. And now that swimsuit season has passed, I feel less guilty eating all the bad-for-your-waistline comfort foods. I also feel less guilty posting them. Actually, in about two weeks, I'm heading to Turks and Caicos for a little holiday so I do have some swimsuit season left before 2014 ends. But eff it. Let's talk about this carbo-wrapped cheese monster!
Ingredients [serves 4 to 6]:
8 oz. brie round
1 sheet puff pastry
2 tablespoons apricot jam or raspberry jam
+ apple slices
+ peach slices
+ figs
+ carrot sticks
+ water crackers
+ whatever dippers you want
I used store bought puff pastry. I suggest you do the same, since making puff pastry at home is time consuming and this is a melty cheese dream that you'll want to turn into reality as quickly as possible. Defrost it according to the package directions and then carefully unfold it and lay it on a sheet pan.
Spread the jam onto puff pastry and then plop the brie right onto the center. Preferably, the brie should be cold and straight out of the refrigerator. It will be spending plenty of time in the oven so it will end up molten, don't worry. You just want to make sure the pastry sets before the cheese melts and the best way for that to happen is if the cheese is firm to start. And since brie is already a soft cheese, it won't take much to melt it.

Do you like this jam jar? It's one of several jam jars that I took from our hotel in Paris. I've also got cute little honey jars. I would've taken the baby ketchup bottles and mustard too but I ran out of room in my suitcase. Anyway, the sweetness of the jam compliments the cheese and it also creates a moisture barrier between the cheese and the pastry which will help when it comes time to eat the pastry portion of the baked brie. You'll be able to rip the pieces of flaky pastry right off with minimal trouble.
Fold the pastry over onto the brie round - kind of in a pinwheel fashion - and pinch the edges of the dough to seal it in.
Chuck the sheet pan in a 350F oven for 25 minutes until the dough is cooked through and puffed up. Then, pop the whole thing into the broiler for 2 minutes just to toast the top and get it lovely and golden brown. Frickin' easy, right? It's a total brie-ze to make.
While the brie is baking, get your dippers ready. I used apple, peach, fig, carrots, and water crackers. Pretzel sticks, dried fruit, grapes, broccoli florets, there are a whole host of yummy bits and bobs that would be delicious here. I mean, whatever it is, it's being dipped in molten cheese. It'll be difficult to find something that doesn't work.
I highly recommend eating this meal with wine or bubbles. For us, I poured a few glasses of eiswein (ice wine) which is a super sweet wine made by freezing grapes and then pressing them and discarding the shards of ice. The ice is just water so you just end up with all of the sugars in the grapes and the result is a wine that tastes like juice, from concentrate. It's a perfect dessert and/or cheese accompaniment.
Serve up your bounty as soon as the brie comes out of the oven so that it's hot and molten. If your guests don't "ooh" and "ahh," put them in time out!
Crack that thing open and watch the cheese ooze. This is the second "ooh" and "ahh" test. If your guests don't "ooh" and "ahh" a second time, kick them the eff out of your house! Seriously, if your "friends" are unimpressed by something this delicious, it's time to rethink your friendship.
It's like the best molten lava ever, because it's not really lava, it's cheese. Ooey gooey cheese always makes for the best gifs. I could watch this all day, couldn't you? By the way, I pronounce "gif" with a soft 'g' (giraffe, ginger, giblets). I know a lot of people pronounce it with a hard 'g' (giddy, gild, gift) but Steve Wilhite, the creator of the gif, pronounces it with a soft 'g,' as he emphasized at the Webby awards last year. If the gif's dad says it that way, then so do I.
After you shake yourself out of 'oozing cheese hypnosis,' (which is what happens when you can't tear your eyes away from mesmerizing melting cheese) it's time to dip and eat. I love the combination of sweet, juicy, crunchy fruit with the salty, earthy, gooey brie. Oh, and don't forget! Tear off bits of the puff pastry and eat that too. The apricot jam is sweet, the pastry is buttery and flaky, and it's got cheese smeared all over it.

This obviously isn't the healthiest snack - I mean, the dippers aren't so bad I suppose - but it tastes friggin' delicious. And I'm not asking you eat the whole thing on your own. Invite some friends over and share the love. Oh, you didn't know? Yeah, melty cheese is love.
Here's the recipe page:

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