Melted, rich baked brie ensconced in flaky, buttery puff pastry with apricot preserves for fruity sweetness makes for a show-stopping appetizer guaranteed to please a crowd.
I can’t remember when or where I first had baked brie. All I know is that I have served it at our annual Halloween party for seven years now and it is always a hit with everybody. It’s something I tend to make around holidays when other people will be around so that I don’t sit down and consume the whole thing. I need a check on that kind of temptation and having company around for a party or holiday is pretty much the only way to avoid gobbling up all the cheesy, flaky deliciousness of a baked brie. Invariably, there is someone who comes up to me when this is served and we have a moment or respectful admiration for the gastronomic greatness of brie, so at least I’m not the only one who feels this way about this cheese! Poor Paul doesn’t understand the siren call of baked brie, but I’ve let it go that he isn’t tempted by it’s utterly devastating smooth, robust flavor and texture because it just means more for me.
Some people prefer baked brie served with crackers and others prefer it with fruit. Me? I think that brie and pears, especially crunchier ones sliced thin, are pretty much perfection in each bite. But of course grapes and apples are wonderful choices to serve with baked brie as well. It’s the combination of smooth, soft cheese and crunchy fruit, salty and sweet and savory, all tied up together, that really makes this appetizer shine. And it is so unbelievably easy to make.
There are so many variations you could do with a baked brie. My absolute, all-time favorite is to fill the puff pastry with brie and a generous helping of apricot preserves for sweet and savory and fruity bliss. But other popular versions called for nuts or dried cranberries or honey or even jalapeno jelly. Or even go away from sweet and add herbs like thyme or caramelized onions or sun-dried tomatoes. Feel free to use your imagination!
With all the upcoming holidays and people visiting, this would be wonderful for snacking on when Thanksgiving dinner is still hours away or when friends are coming over for a Christmas party or at a New Year’s Eve celebration. And you can make it even fancier or holiday specific by cutting out small shapes from extra puff pastry to decorate the top.
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