Monday, December 28, 2015

Baked Brie with Dried Fruits and Nuts

Last year, a baked brie similar to the one in the photo above made an appearance at some point during the holidays - purchased at The Scone Pony in Spring Lake, NJ, a shop selling outstanding scones and other treats. 

But the store's limited opening hours didn't correspond with my availability to stop in this year, so I decided to make my own for Christmas eve. I've got a few vegetarians in the family and the octopus salad, baccala mantecato and shrimp platter just doesn't cut it with them. I couldn't leave them out while we were sitting around embibing on prosecco and appetizers.

The baked brie was a snap to make and was just as good as Scone Pony's - no, better, since it was freshly made. 

Maybe you're having guests at some point in the week, or making merry for New Year's Eve. This would be a perfect accompaniment to those glasses of bubbly you're likely to pour.

I start by slicing off the rind from a wheel of brie, an optional step, but it makes it a lot easier to dig into the cheese without the rind.

 Then smear the top with a fig spread, fig preserves or other type of jam, jelly or preserves that you like. I know I'd also love this with either quince jelly, apricot or orange preserves too.

 Then take some of the same flavor of preserves or jelly and mix it with your choice of chopped nuts and dried fruits. I used dried figs, cranberries and cherries, with pecans and pistachios.

Pile the dried fruit and nut mixture on top, then when guests arrive, bake in the oven briefly or place in the microwave for a minute or two.

 Add some crackers and serve.

 And watch it disappear.

 Buon Anno and a big thank you to all my readers for following me this year, for leaving comments on the blog, for making my recipes and for emailing me with questions, or just to send greetings. I wish you all the very best in 2016. 

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Baked Brie with Dried Fruits and Nuts

All amounts are all approximate. Use as much or as little as you like of nuts and dried fruits.

 If you have too much, it keeps well in the refrigerator.

1 wheel of brie cheese

1/4 cup chopped pecans

1/4 cup chopped pistachios

1/4 cup chopped dried figs

1/4 cup chopped dried cranberries

1/4 cup fig preserves, plus more for smearing on top of cheese.

Carefully slice the top rind of the brie cheese, trying not to take much of the cheese. A little bit of rind on top is ok. Spread some fig preserves over the cheese. Chop the nuts and fruits, mix in the preserves and pile on top. Refrigerate until ready to use, then bake in a 350 degree oven for five minutes, or place in the microwave for one minute. You don't want to melt the cheese, just soften it. Serve with crackers.

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