And now for something truly fatty…
I signed up to bring an appetizer to my office’s holiday gathering. Two days ago, I fretted over what to bring as my friend and I raided the dairy fridge at Costco. “I was thinking baked brie, but…” My sentence trailed off, the silence longingly filled with suggestions of healthier, less gut-bomb-ish food.
“Oh, everyone loves baked brie,” Shelby said with assurance. And since I’m easily swayed and a 13.5 wheel of brie at Costco is only around $8, I went with it.
And OMG. I can’t really say anything redeeming about the nutrition of this dish (you can use whole wheat in the pie crust?), but there’s nothing quite like an entire wheel of creamy brie spread with jam and baked until piping hot and gooey inside a golden, flaky crust, accented with a drizzle of honey and toasted nuts. As much as I embrace eating healthily most of the time, there are some occasions that call for a no-fail, universally crowd-pleasing appetizer and this is IT. (Unless you’re lactose-intolerant, celiac, a cheese hater, a sweet + salty hater, a buttery flaky pie crust hater etc…) The last time I brought baked brie to an event, there were only crumbs left after 15 minutes.
The best thing about this version of baked brie, in my opinion, is that you don’t have to go out and buy puff pastry. I only ever use one sheet of pastry at a time and the other one almost always goes bad in my freezer before I get around to using it. Instead, you can easily whip up a tiny batch of pie dough with ingredients you have in your kitchen. Pie crust used to make me cringe, but watching my cousin make the pie dough for an apple pie over Thanksgiving made me realize it’s really not that hard.
It’s the holidays, people. Eat healthy and then SPLURGE.
Note: Some people swear by a savory version of baked brie, smothering the brie in pesto before baking. I’ve only ever gone the sweet route and used jam, honey and nuts. I used raspberry jam several times before a woman at a cheese shop recommended sour cherry preserves to create a tangy contrast to the sweet honey and creamy cheese–so good. In fact, if you have any leftover cranberry sauce, that would be fantastic. Either way, this is always a crowd-pleaser.
- 1 small to medium wheel of brie anywhere from 8 to 14 oz.
- For the dough:
- ½ cup flour all-purpose, whole wheat, etc. + more if needed
- ½ teaspoon sugar
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- 2.5 tablespoons butter very cold
- 2-3 tablespoons ice water
- Untoasted sliced almonds if desired
- In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, sugar and salt. Cut the butter into 1/4-inch cubes and sprinkle over the dough. Pinch the cubes between your fingers to flatten while working the butter into the flour with your hands: your goal is to have as many tiny flakes of butter distributed throughout the flour as possible—big chunks of butter are not allowed, unless you want greasy holes in your crust.
- Add 2 tablespoons of ice water and stir until a pliable dough comes together. Add more water, a teaspoon at a time, if dough seems dry or crumbly.
- A few minutes before the dough is done resting, preheat your oven to 375F. On a lightly floured surface or between two pieces of plastic wrap, roll out the dough until it is large enough to cover your wheel of brie. If you have a smaller wheel, your dough may be able to entirely enclose the brie. With my larger 13.5 oz. wheel, I was only able to cover the top and sides of the brie, tucking the edges underneath.
- Shave some of the rind off the top of the wheel if you like (leave the bottom intact for your best chance at minimizing cheese ooze) and spread liberally with jam. Enclose the wheel in dough and place on a baking sheet, jam side up. Brush the pie dough with a few teaspoons of milk or a bit of egg. Top with sliced almonds if desired—they’ll toast in the oven.
- Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until crust is golden brown. Remove from oven and drizzle with honey. Let sit for 5-10 minutes before serving.