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Brie’s salty, mild flavors make it the perfect base for a number of hot appetizers and side dishes. Its soft texture also lends it versatility. Hot brie dishes may be baked to a soft, spreadable consistency, or melted into a dip. Creating either kind of dish requires some slightly complicated knife work, but the results are usually well worth the effort. Cooks may also flavor hot brie with nearly any combination of ingredients.
Baked brie may be made in a number of ways. It may be topped with anything from herbs and pickled vegetables, to sardines and crabmeat or fruit compote and preserves. Generally, these ingredients are placed on top of the brie in an aesthetically-pleasing arrangement. The entire assembly is then slipped into an oven preheated to about 400°Fahrenheit (about 204°C) for about 10 minutes. The hot brie should be very soft at this point, but not runny.
Most baked hot brie dishes require a little fancy knife-work because the rind can prevent the flavorful added ingredients from marrying properly with the brie. Here, the cook has several choices. He or she may score around the top edge of the rind and remove it, exposing the top of the cheese so the other ingredients may be added. Another method involves slicing the brie wheel in half on a horizontal axis with a fillet knife and sandwiching the ingredients between the wheel halves before baking.
A third option involves gently removing the rind from the brie entirely and placing the wheel on top of a piece of puff pastry. The cook may then top the cheese with the additional ingredients and wrap everything in the pastry, creating a flaky round. Cooks using this method may want to reduce the oven temperature by about 10 degrees and bake for about 5 minutes longer. The lower temperature should prevent the brie from melting entirely, while the longer baking time generally ensures the puff pastry is totally cooked.
Fully melted brie dishes almost always take the form of a hot brie fondue. The base for this is typically butter and either dry white wine or slightly sweet to dry champagne. The cook should cut away the rind of the brie before cubing it, but the rind will melt if the cook is low on time or simply likes its flavor.
The butter, wine, and hot brie are then typically whisked over low heat until they form a smooth, thick liquid. One may add fruit chutneys, pickling spices, or other herbs to the brie when it is fully melted. The hot brie may then be poured into a fondue pot or a small, heated slow cooker to keep it warm. Bread, fruit, and veggies all go well with hot brie fondue.