Brie is traditionally made from unpasteurized cow's milk, but true brie is rarely available, so pasteurized brie-style cheeses are more common. Warming the soft cheese brings out its fruity flavor, which blends well with a variety of sweet and savory additions. You can bake brie just a few minutes to warm it, or for longer if you prefer a runnier texture for dipping.
Baking turns soft brie into a creamy, rich spreadable topping for crackers, raw vegetables and bread. The rind is edible and usually left on, although you will want to slice it off the top of the cheese wheel with a sharp knife if you are topping the brie so the flavors of the toppings can permeate the cheese. The rind on the bottom and sides help the brie hold its shape so it doesn't run all over the pan during baking. Brie only needs to be baked long enough to begin melting and allow the flavors to meld, so 15 minutes in a 350-degree Fahrenheit is usually enough.
Plain and Simple
Serving baked brie plain, without a bread or pastry wrapper, only requires the removal of the top rind. If you prefer to remove the entire rind, place the wheel in a baking dish only slightly larger than the wheel of brie. As the brie melts, it will spread out and fill the dish. You can top unbreaded brie before or after baking, if you wish. If you use a sweet, sugary topping and want it warm, add it in the last five minutes of cooking so the sugars don't scorch or burn.
Brie en Croute
Brie en croute is simply baked brie in a bread or pastry bowl. The bread prevents the brie from running and helps it hold its shape. You can leave the side and bottom rind in place or trim it off. If you use a bread bowl, hollow it out enough so the brie wheel fits snugly. Bread bowls also work well if you have leftover brie that is no longer in a wheel shape, because as it cooks it will level out in the bowl. Alternatively, set it on top a square of pastry dough and wrap the dough around the wheel, covering the bottom, top and sides completely and pinching the dough closed to seal. Bread bowl baked brie only requires baking until the cheese melts. If you replace the top on the bowl and wrap it in foil, you can bake it for up to 45 minutes, which works well if you are using a savory topping and you want the flavors to fully penetrate the cheese. Pastry-wrapped brie may require 20 to 24 minutes in the oven for the pastry to cook through.
Sweet or Savory
Sweet toppings that work well with brie include cranberry sauce, apricot or peach preserves, or a simple cinnamon-sugar syrup and nut topping. Plum sauce also complements the flavor of the brie, as does a spicy-sweet pepper jelly. Savory toppings include roasted garlic, rosemary and parsley. Caramelized sweet onions drizzled on top of a wheel of baked brie provide both an aromatic and flavorful topping. Nuts, such as pecans, walnuts and toasted almonds, also work well with both sweet and savory toppings.
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