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Cooks in the know reach for a round of brie cheese and a package of frozen or refrigerated pastry to create hors d’oeuvres that will bring guests to their knees. Baked brie pastry is one of the easiest appetizers to prepare, yet the counterbalance of creamy cheese and crunchy pastry suggests elegance fit for a queen. Both sweet and savory versions of this yummy predinner treat can be created in a snap.
Dozens of recipes are online, but the clever cook knows that a little personal creativity will result in a baked brie pastry that could become a signature treat. While dedicated pastry cooks have no problem whipping up homemade puff pastry, phyllo, or biscuit dough in which the round of cheese will be stuffed, those with less time can buy a serviceable version in the refrigerated or frozen foods department of the local grocery. It only takes a minute to lay out the dough, place the cheese — rind and all — on top, and swaddle it like a baby.
Home cooks can enliven this most basic approach to baked brie pastry by placing one or more fresh herbs on top of the cheese before wrapping it. Alternatively, layering the round of brie with any type of fruit preserves will result in a sweeter treat. A little maple syrup drizzled on the pastry before it’s popped into the oven makes this version even better. For cooks who want to please both diners with a sweet tooth and those who prefer a more savory meal starter, the fruit preserves can be served on the side and the syrup omitted.
Mixing dried fruit, nuts, and fresh herbs atop the round of brie makes a holiday-worthy baked brie pastry. Dried cherries, cranberries, or apricots work well together with toasted, slivered almonds or chopped walnuts and some rosemary or basil for the herbal note. Minced ginger adds zing for those who like to be surprised.
For cooks who prefer savory baked brie pastry, topping the cheese with shitake, portobello, or button mushrooms that have been sautéed with a little onion and fresh or dried herbs does the trick. Other savory possibilities include eggplant, red pepper, or garlic cloves that have roasted in the oven long enough to bring out their subtle sweetness. A thin slice or two of prosciutto, smoked ham, or bacon is another savory option, and a little dried tomato will result in a baked brie pastry reminiscent of a good old-fashioned BLT.
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