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.
- 1/2 package frozen puff pastry, thawed for 20 minutes
- 1/4 cup apricot preserves
- 1 brie wheel (about 13-16 ounces)
- 1 egg
- 1 tablespoon water
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Carefully unfold the thawed sheet of puff pastry dough on a clean, dry surface and gently roll out a bit. It's already thin, so you won't need to roll much - just enough to fix the creases that usually form where the dough has been folded and stretch the edges a bit. If desired, cut out a small shape from one of the corners of the dough to decorate the top of the baked brie later.
Measure the apricot preserves and spoon them directly into the center of the puff pastry dough, then gently lay the wheel of brie on top of the preserves. There is no need to remove the outer white rind of the brie unless you feel like it. I kind of prefer having the rind so I always leave it.
Combine the egg and water in a small bowl and whisk with a fork to create an egg wash. Using the egg wash and a pastry brush or just your fingers, brush the edges of the exposed puff pastry, then fold it up around the exposed brie, starting from one corner and working your way around, to create a nicely wrapped little package.
Flip the wrapped wheel of brie over and lay it seam side down on the parchment lined baking sheet. Top with the decorate piece of puff pastry, if desired, and brush lightly with remaining egg wash.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the puff pastry is golden brown. Remove from oven and let rest for 30 minutes before serving with pears, grapes, apples, crackers or a sliced baguette.
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