Combine with dried berries, jam and nuts - your choice of combination.
Stuffed brie may be re-wrapped and returned to fridge, up to 24 hours.
On cold surface, roll out pastry until smooth and 1/4-inch thickness. (My stone counter wasn't squeaky clean so I worked, outside on the porch, to keep dough chilled.)
Wrap brie in pastry.
Trim excess pastry dough and reserve for cut-out decoration, if desired.
Press seams together, then flip brie over.
Make decorative cut-outs for brie, if desired.
Cover cut-outs with parchment or foil after 10 minutes in the oven; then allow brie to continue baking in oven another 10 minutes until golden brown.
My decorated diva, ready for prime time.
This stuffed brie en croute takes only 30 minutes – max – to assemble. Yet with stockings to stuff and presents to wrap, I couldn’t manufacture even that small block of time. Therefore, the following appetizer, which I carted to my friend’s Holiday Party, was done in stages: I stuffed the brie 24 hours in advance, wrapped it in pastry 8 hours before show time, then a half hour before leaving the house, I baked (then photographed) the holiday diva and she “rested” in the passenger seat on the way to the party.
But the party girl disdains regimented recipes and enjoys your messing around with her. Prefer a crispy, more delicate crust? Cover the brie with butter-brushed layers of phyllo dough. Perhaps your palate would enjoy a savory rather than sweet bite. Instead of a fruity filling, stuff the brie with caramelized onion, bacon and pepper jelly. With this type of appetizer, I prefer using a double or triple cream brie or camembert. But what’s to stop you from using a goat cheese – or round of gorgonzola? Certainly not me. I used a 12 ounce wheel but serve a large crowd with a kilo or a smaller group with an 8 ounce cheese.
“En Croute” is the French phrase meaning “baked in crust.” You could pull out a Julia Child cookbook and make it yourself, but I always purchase frozen sheets. I use the award-winning Dufour Puff Pastry purchased from Whole Foods, but Pepperidge Farm sheets are available at most groceries in town.
My only advise when working with pastry is to chill, literally; don’t allow that dough to warm, it’s much harder to work with. I’ve found that a marble slab, or granite or quartz counter keeps the dough chilly. If these surfaces aren’t available to you, use any cutting board and work with your pastry outside in December’s chilly air; roll the pastry out and fold around the brie on a porch or in your garage.
The recipe below was inspired by Nicci Cook’s Holiday Brie en Croute. I found it in the December issue of Traverse: Northern Michigan’s Magazine, which included a section on A+ Appetizers from four students from Northwestern Michigan College’s culinary institute. I used puff pastry instead of phyllo, which is less hassle and more durable to me, used a larger brie, and “messed around” with the technique. Happy Holidays!
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