We love cheeses, which is probably a good thing since we're starting a dairy and creamery. When we invite friends over, they love trying the new cheeses we have to share in new recipes, fondue, and raclette. We have found most people don't know what to do with fabulous cheeses. They weren't raised eating them and they like them, but how do you eat it?
I decided to start with a simple baked brie recipe that everyone we have shared it with loves. That means over 50 people, including picky eaters, say they love it. I, however, am not fooled by lip service and polite manners. I notice my guests and friends take a "reasonable" portion, but keep coming back to it. It's good.
Brie ("bree") is a creamy cow's milk cheese that is traditionally from France. It's light colored with a soft, often gooey, inside and a white rind. The white rind clearly is moldy, which may frighten those of us not used to eating mold, but it is our friend. I usually eat the rind of brie, but pass on it if the cheese is of mediocre quality and only a wedge of the rind is left. Otherwise, it's good.
This recipe is good to serve at a dinner with guests, at a party, or a holiday meal as an appetizer. Timid tasters are fun to watch because they are usually very wary as brie is a little stinky, but when they taste it they are very surprised. We sometimes make it for the four of us and end up eating the whole thing for our meal with artisan crackers or baguette slices.
12-16 oz Brie (round)
1 1/2 c Hazelnuts (or macadamias)
1/2 c Brown sugar, dark if available
1 c Mango, 1 large (make sure it's ripe)
2 t Lime juice (can substitute lemon)
1/2 t Curry powder
Place the brie in the freezer for about 30 minutes to stiffen prior to cutting as it's sticky and somewhat soft. Meanwhile, toast the hazelnuts in a 350-degree oven, shaking or stirring every few minutes to evenly toast. Total time is usually about 10-12 minutes. Cool enough to handle. Rub the hazenluts with bare hands or a paper towel to break off most of the skins. Collect the nuts, chop coarsely, and toss with the brown sugar.
Using a serrated knife (I use my good bread knife ... this is the only time it's not cutting bread), trim the rind off the top of the cheese. I never get it off in one piece as I try to take only the rind. (The rind can be used in soup, chopped on a salad, or at least fed to the dogs or chickens instead of going in the garbage.)
Cut the cheese in half as though you're turning it into a layer cake. The cheese will usually stick back to itself where you've cut, so this may take a little patience. Using a wet cold knife has given me mixed results. Lay out the two halves separately.
Prepare a baking sheet with parchment paper on the bottom, or foil coated with non-stick spray or oil/butter. I like to create a rim to hold the cheese together because my filling layer spills out all over otherwise ... I like a lot of filling. Pull off two six-inch lengths of foil and fold the short ends together so you have a long piece of foil. Fold in half so it's about three inches wide.
Take the piece of cheese with the rind on the bottom and place it on the parchment paper. Wrap the foil around the cheese to create a nice rim or pseudo-pan around the cheese. This is to hold in layers of fruit, nuts, and cheese upright.
Layer on half of the nuts on the bottom cheese round. Stack on the other cheese round, and top with the rest of the hazelnut brown sugar mixture. Press down on the layers to press the nuts a little into the cheese. Place in a preheated 350-degree oven for 8 minutes.
Meanwhile, chop the mango fine and toss with lime juice and curry. When the cheese comes out, top with the mango mixture and return to the oven for five more minutes.
To serve, transfer to the serving plate with the foil in place. Carefully remove the foil. It may spread out a little, but that is fine. Serve with artisan crackers, baguettes, or crusty French bread.
Wife to Brandon, mother to Tess and Liam, farmer, entrepreneur, cook & baker, nurse, and accountant who loves to try new things, travel, and work toward greater self-reliance.