Saturday, December 19, 2009

My Favorite Appetizer to Share: Baked Brie in Puff Pastry

This baked brie wrapped in pastry is a huge party favorite. It is one of those great recipes that looks very Martha Stewart but is actually very Rachel Ray! Your party guests will ooh and ahh over this melted, cheesy goodness and you can make it festive with a few cutouts on top.

With very little preparation and about 30 minutes of baking time, this indulgent appetizer was ready to serve. I have often made it without the raspberry jam but I was inspired by this post from Elise at Simply Recipes to add a bit of raspberry jam. My baked brie was a bit more rustic with the folds on top. If you want to have a more polished look without the jam peeking out, check out this video that puts the folds underneath. And this site here has a lot of ideas for variations with nuts, dried fruit etc.

Here's the step-by-step for my rustic version:

You will need:

• frozen puff pastry (which should be thawed in advance of when you want to use it) The Dufour brand says 2-3 hours but the Pepperidge Farm brand is a little less.
• raspberry jam
• a round of brie cheese
• an egg (optional)
• small cookie cutters or a knife to cut shapes (optional)

1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Oil or use cooking spray to oil a cookie sheet.

2. On a cutting board, unfold the thawed puff pastry. Press out any seams with your fingers. You can gently roll it if you like or not.

3. Place the round of brie in the center.

4. Put a bit of jam on the top and begin to fold the pastry up on top. Trim excess as necessary. This is a rustic version where the pastry was not sealed shut and the cheese and jam bubbled a bit. Check out the other links above for a more formal baked brie.

5. Using a small cookie cutter or a knife to cut out leaves or shapes from the scraps. Feel free to reroll the scraps as needed.

6. Place the cutout on top of the wrapped brie. Beat the egg with a fork and brush the pastry with the egg wash. This will give it beautiful golden brown color. You can use the egg wash like glue to seal any pastry or even to adhere the cutoffs if needed.

7. Place on the cookie sheet and bake 25-30 minutes until golden brown. This baked brie puffed up to reveal the jam- which gave it a festive, colorful look. Your pastry may have puffed apart revealing some melted cheese spots in the photo above- don't worry! I used a bit more jam to fill in over the open melted cheese opening for better presentation.

8. To serve, remove from cookie sheet with spatula and place on a dish with high edges. Let cool AT LEAST 10 minutes before cutting. This is key because if you cut the baked brie too early, the molten cheese will gush out and deflate ( hence the dish with the edges). Serve with crackers.

I hope you like it as much as I do!