Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Baked Brie

Thank you to my friend who asked about easy appetizers for entertaining. It's a slow, rainy day here and I was feeling kind of blah. Making this slightly fancy-pants dish to go with Tuesday night dinner was just the thing!

Seriously indulgent.

Somebody catch that cheese with an apple, quick!


My go-to, simple-but-fantastic holiday treat and appetizer. It's worth a trip to Whole Foods, or your favorite neighborhood bakery for a really good loaf of bread -- one that actually makes a sound when you knock on it. Also worth getting adventurous with the spread you choose. Go for something you would not put on a kid's PB&J. (And if you have a little more time to make this dish truly spectacular, you could even make a spread from scratch -- just Google "compote," and pick your favorite.) My standby, however, as long as I'm at Whole Foods, is this guy:
Usually found near the cheeses.
There is also a sour cherry spread by this same brand that would probably be very good.

1 round, crusty loaf (I like sourdough)
1 complete wheel of brie (smaller than your loaf of bread)
fancy jam or compote
apple slices
olive oil

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Cut the top fourth off the loaf of bread, and carefully hollow out the bread inside so that the brie wheel will fit. Cube the hollowed out bread and set aside. Cut 1'' deep slits into the side of the brie, all the way around, about 1" apart. This allows some warm, gooey, cheesy goodness to seep out into the warm, bread-y goodness. Place cheese inside the bread bowl. Spread a very generous helping of jam or compote on top of cheese wheel. (I use about half that jar.) Replace bread top. Brush entire loaf with olive oil; wrap in foil and place on baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, and serve with reserved bread cubes and apple slices.

One of the best things about serving this at a gathering is that people seem to like to gather around it and discuss. It looks intriguing; it smells amazing, but if they've never had it, they won't quite know how to attack it. You can't help but dig right in, though. And be warned: once you start, it's hard to stop.