A brie pastry puff is an appetizer that is made by baking brie cheese inside a puff pastry shell. The result is a dish that is crispy and golden on the outside, but gooey and cheesy within. One of the most traditional ways to make brie puff pastry is to encase an entire wheel of brie in pastry dough, bake it in the oven, then slice and serve. Cooks may also make individual melted brie puffs that are more bite-sized.
Depending on how a brie pastry puff is prepared, it can be either savory or sweet. On its own, brie has a mild, creamy flavor. Pastry dough is really all that is needed to make this brie appetizer, but cooks often elect to heighten the flavor by adding other elements. Dried fruits and jams are common sweet additions to brie pastry puff, while caramelized onions, leeks, or marinated olives make for a much more savory snack. These ingredients are usually smeared or stacked on top of the cheese before it is wrapped in the dough such that everything cooks together and the flavors have a chance to infuse the melted brie.
Cooking with brie is generally rather simple, on account of the cheese’s low melting point. As far as cheeses go, brie is one of the softest, and is malleable even when chilled. Heating brie even just slightly usually causes it to melt, and baking it for too long at too high a temperature can cause it to boil or scorch. Brie pastry puff cooks must usually take care that they monitor the cheese's temperature and overall heat while in the oven.
Puff pastry shell acts as an insulator in a brie pastry puff. Most of the time, the dough is wrapped around the cheese while both pieces are still cold. The oven’s heat penetrates the pastry shell first, causing it to crisp and brown. Only then does it begin to affect the brie inside. When timed properly, the brie is just melted the moment the pastry is done.
There are several options for serving a brie pastry puff. If the entire wheel of cheese has been baked, cooks usually serve the dish as a spread, often with crackers, bread, or fruit slices. This preparation is formally known as Brie en Croute, which is French for "Brie in a crust." Diners typically cut into the pastry to remove a scoop or wedge, then eat it immediately, while it is still warm.
Individual brie pastry puffs are another option, and do better in finger-food scenarios. Here, individual pieces of brie are baked into small, bite-sized pastry rounds. Guests eat these puff pastries whole, without the need for cutting or spreading.