Baked brie on the appetizer table turns a get-together into a chic affair with an international feel. Very few steps and ingredients go into a baked brie, yet it comes out looking impressive. Bake brie for an appetizer or dessert, with or without the rind, depending on the presentation you're going for. Either way, an elegant and edible centerpiece will invite guests to dig in.
Rind and All
Leave the rind intact on a wheel of brie for the easiest prep possible. Simply place it on a pan and heat it in a warm oven for 20 minutes or so before serving. Top the warmed brie with fruit or chutney, if you like. Or wrap the brie, rind and all, in a pastry crust before baking. The center of the brie will be soft but not runny, surrounded by a lightly browned and flaky crust.
Bake brie inside a pastry crust without the rind for a softer cheese that oozes when it's cut. While the brie is cold from the refrigerator, slice the top and bottom portions of rind away from the cheese, removing all of the rind without pitting the cheese. Then run a sharp knife around the edge of the wheel of brie to remove the rest of the rind. Wrap the brie in a thin layer of phyllo dough or egg roll wrapper. Before closing the pastry crust, spread prepared jam or diced fruit evenly over the top. Place the brie on a greased pan and bake on low until just golden brown. Add crackers or sourdough slices for spreading.
Get the best of both worlds by removing only part of the rind. Bake the brie with the rind on the bottom and sides but removed from the top. This allows the cheese to keep its shape yet soften quickly and completely in the center. Using a sharp knife, slice the top rind from the brie while it's still cold from the refrigerator. Top the rind with an even layer of sliced or crushed almonds and brush with melted butter before baking for a nut-crusted treat.
Tips and Tricks
When deciding whether to remove the rind or leave the rind intact before baking brie, consider how soon the brie will be served after cooking. Brie baked in a pastry without the rind needs several minutes out of the oven to set before slicing, so the cheese doesn't run out and make a mess on the platter. Brie baked in the rind softens but won't ooze quite as much straight from the oven. Serve brie in the rind with a serrated spreader for easy slicing.
- The America's Test Kitchen Family Cookbook; Jack Bishop
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