Now…I’ve been a fan of brie for nearly as long as I can remember. It is probably my favorite cheese and I’ve been known to be subject to wild and crazy brie cravings that end, um, badly. Since we’re only a week away from Thanksgiving, I wanted to share my favorite easy an elegant way to dress up an appetizer platter. I love it on crackers and bread, but it’s also delicious with fruits and vegetables (which is usually how I justify the cravings that end badly).
Before I moved to Louisiana, I’d heard of pepper jelly (mostly when I wondered why anyone in their right mind would ever want to eat pepper jelly). After I moved here, I discovered that not only was it a staple in Louisiana snacking, but it was delicious. I mean, you’re not going to go make a peanut butter and pepper jelly sandwich (or maybe you are, who am I to judge?), but it’s so good when you want that sweet/spicy/savory combination. Like with cheese. Soft, creamy cheese that spreads like butter. When you buy it, definitely check the ingredients; my favorites are often paired with some kind of fruit juice, but the ones with onions, garlic, and other spices kind of get a little weird. I just like the simplicity of the sweet, tangy heat and nothing else, you know?
My friend Kelly introduced me to baked brie with pepper jelly and I’m pretty sure I can never forgive her because my pants have not fit the same since. All you need is an 8-ounce (or in that neighborhood) wheel of brie, pepper jelly (I got this one from a trip to the farmer’s market), and puff pastry:
Puff pastry comes with two sheets per box, so remove one sheet and allow it to stand at room temperature for about 40 minutes. Place the remaining sheet in a freezer-safe bag and save it for another use.
Preheat the oven to 400.
When the pastry has thawed, gently unfold it on a very lightly floured surface. If there are any cracks, lightly moisten them and gently press them back together.
Carefully cut the wheel of brie in half lengthwise (it helps if it’s cold).
Place one half, rind side-down, on the pastry. Spread a layer of pepper jelly over the cheese.
Place the other half, rind side-up on the jelly, almost like a brie sandwich (let’s not even go there).
If you want, you can spread another layer of jelly on top of the rind.
You’ll want 2-3 inches of pastry surrounding the cheese, but any more than that will get bulky, so you may need to trim about 1″ of pastry on one or more sides (reserve the scraps for decorations). Carefully wrap the pastry around the cheese, sealing the edges shut so the melted cheese and jelly won’t leak out when it’s baked.
Invert the pastry-wrapped cheese onto a lightly greased baking dish so the seam side is down. If you want, you can cut some decorative shapes out of the dough scraps
and use them to decorate the wrapped cheese.
Brush the pastry with an egg white mixed with water
and bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown.
Serve with crackers, slices of bread, and fresh fruit like pears, grapes, strawberries, and apples.
If you want, you can have a jar of pepper jelly handy so if there isn’t enough of that flavor in the baked brie (it actually ends up coming out pretty subtle), you can add a little more. Because it’s awesome.
Baked Brie with Pepper Jelly
Recipe on Our Best Bites
1 8-oz. wheel of baby Brie
1/2 package puff pastry, thawed for about 40 minutes at room temperatures
About 2-4 tablespoons pepper jelly (try to find some without onions, garlic, or other spices; fruit juice is okay; Tabasco is a great, widely available, reliable choice.)
1 egg white mixed with about 2 teaspoons cold water
Preheat oven to 400.
Gently unfold the puff pastry sheet, mending any broken spots. Cut the brie in half lengthwise and place one half, rind down, on the pastry. Spread with jelly and then place the other half of the brie, rind up, on the cheese. If necessary, trim the excess pastry and then fold it over the cheese, sealing the edges. If desired, decorate the brie with decorative shapes cut from the excess dough and brush it with the egg white/water mixture.
Place the bundle, seam-down, on a lightly greased baking dish. Bake for 15-20 minutes or until the pastry is golden brown. Serve with crackers, bread, and fresh fruit (like strawberries, apples, pears, and grapes) if desired. This is perfect as an easy, elegant holiday appetizer.