Friday, December 2, 2011

easy app: baked brie stuffed with fennel-blood orange tapenade

'Tis the season when you may be entertaining, asked to bring an appetizer to a friend's home...or just looking for something decadent to nibble on while decorating your tree. Here is one of my cold weather go-to apps that is so, so easy.

Baked Stuffed Brie

round of your favorite soft cheese (brie, Camembert, you choose the variety & size)
a jam or tapenade to layer inside
nuts to sprinkle on top (optional)
your favorite crackers

Slice the round cheese horizontally, so you end up with two disks. In an ovenproof dish, place the first disk of cheese down and smother with your choice of jam or tapenade. Place second disk of cheese on top, and dollop more of the jam or tapenade on top of that. Bake at 350 until the cheese is melted through and starting to ooze out the sides. If you would like, sprinkle with nuts for the last few minutes of warming...careful not to put them on too early or they might burn. Serve with a selection your favorite crackers.

I am a particular fan of The Gracious Gourmet's fennel-blood orange tapenade, because it lends just the right of zip to the creamy brie. Around us, I know Walter Stewart's and Whole Food's Darien store both carry this line. Here's a link to find a retailer near you.

So, at this point, I popped it in the oven for....I'd say it was about 15 minutes.

Once the cheese was soft and starting to bubble around the edges of the baking dish, I sprinkled some roasted pepitas (the inside pumpkin seeds, found at Trader Joe's in the nut aisle) on top, then popped it back into the oven for another 3 minutes or so, just so the nuts warmed a bit. I like adding some sort of nut-- or in this case, seed-- as a contrast to the creamy consistency of the cheese, but this is certainly optional. We served ours with two of our favorite crackers: Akmak and Trader Joe's Rosemary-Raisin Crisps.

Have a wonderful weekend ahead!

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