I’ve never been to Wisconsin before, but since it is to cheese what Kansas City is said to be to barbecue or as Brooklyn is rumored to be to pizza, I think I’d feel very at home there. If I had the opportunity to rewrite the food pyramid I think I could make a fairly good case for why cheese should have its own food group.
Cheese, like wine and coffee, is an element with so many complexities that it is difficult to adequately illustrate how many varieties exist. Varieties aside, different types of cheese bear different qualities. The Kraft singles on your grilled cheese sandwich do not taste the same as the hunk of Stilton on display at Murray’s Cheese Shop.
I make this recipe often for parties because, well, everyone likes it. I’ve never come across anyone who hasn’t eaten a healthy chunk, gone back for seconds and then asked, “what’s in this?” The answer: gooey, melted brie cheese stuffed with crunchy almonds, tart dried cherries caramelized by brown sugar, all enveloped in a sheet of flaky puff pastry.
- 1 (7 to 8-inch) wheel brie cheese
- ¼ cup dried cherries
- ¼ cup sliced toasted almonds
- 3 tablespoons brown sugar
- 2 sheets (12 by 18-inch) puff pastry
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- Using a warmed sharp knife, or unflavored dental floss (See Cook’s Note 1) cut the wheel of brie in half horizontally and separate the top half of the wheel from the bottom half. Sprinkle the bottom half of the brie with the dried cherries, toasted almonds, and brown sugar. Replace the top half of the brie and apply pressure to secure the stuffing. Working on a well-floured surface, roll out the puff pastry so that it will fully cover the brie. Place the brie in the middle of the puff pastry and fold the excess pastry around the wheel. Put the wheel aside.
- Roll out another piece of puff pastry and cut out a circle the same circumference as the top of the brie. Save the trimmings for decorations. Using a pastry brush, brush the egg on top of the brie in the puff pastry and place the circle on top. Brush the top of the circle with egg.
- Cut out decorations using cookie cutters or a small knife on top of the brie. Brush the entire top side of the brie with the egg and place the brie on a sheet pan lined with parchment paper.
- Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until the pastry begins to turn golden brown, then turn the temperature down to 325 degrees F and bake for another 20 minutes. Serve on a pretty platter. See Cook’s Note 2.
Cook’s Note 1: Instead of using a knife to cut the brie, use a piece of unflavored dental floss. Make an initial cut half way down, along the outer side of the brie with a pairing knife. Then, take a long piece of dental floss and wrap it around both hands. Starting at the front of the wheel at the initial cut, work through the wheel with the floss, separating the top half of the wheel from the bottom.
Cook’s Note 2: The brie can be made, wrapped securely and stored in the freezer up to a month ahead of time.