I wish I could remember the exact when-and-where details of experiencing baked brie for the first time. For the original incarnation of the recipe I’m about to share with you, I remember my college roommate/best friend teaching me about it… but did she make it for me? Did she send me the recipe after we were living our grown up lives on different coasts? Do I associate it with B even though the recipe actually came from someone else…? I just can’t recall. It seems unlikely that two college kids were eating baked brie and toast, given our diet of primarily just-add-milk pasta in a pouch (with added peas) and chicken enchiladas. (We must have eaten other things. I don’t remember them.) But I’m off track here. If you ask me which recipes I learned from B, there are three quick and easy answers: curried chicken salad with dried cranberries (so good), homemade granola with apricots, and this baked brie with honey and garlic. I am prepared to give her all the credit, and soon you may be thanking her, too. This is a great recipe.
Brie on it’s own is delicious: it’s mild, easy to spread and so creamy. When you add a little bit of melted butter, some garlic, a good squidge of honey, and heat, you transform a good thing into something dreamy. This is celebration food. Baked brie is the best part of a grilled cheese sandwich… plus more. Garlic plus butter makes me think garlic bread, and warmed honey is curative, I’m almost sure of it. (A note: any kind of honey will work, but I have been so excited to use the ghost pepper honey my Mom gave me for my birthday. It has a surprising kick of heat that is just perfect here.) Baked brie is melty and gooey, fun in the way fondue is fun, a crowd-pleasing centerpiece every time I have made and served it. It goes with crackers, bread, even apple and pear slices. You can make it fancy by adding toasted walnuts or pecans, dried cherries or cranberries, a sprinkle of fresh parsley… or leave it plain. Plain, with this recipe, is anything but. If you’re not planning to entertain anytime soon, don’t despair: baked brie and toast is a wonderful accompaniment to a mug of soup or a garden salad for a comforting midwinter meal.
This last week of December is always a strange week, food-wise. I find my refrigerator stuffed to overflowing with fancy leftovers from Christmas Eve and Christmas dinner: eggnog, 8-hour lamb ragout, roasted mushrooms, baked French toast, and more cocktail sauce than I will ever have shrimp to use. The cupboards are all full of candy and cookies, nothing more. I just barely muster the energy to cook dinner, and meal planning is out the window, so let’s eat another kind of soup, or eggs… yes, again, this has protein. (I can’t be alone here.) Then, like a shining light in the cheese cubby, I find some brie, and remember I have bread to toast, and there is hope. Baked brie saves the day. I’m going to make it for our friends for New Year’s Eve, and you should, too. We can celebrate our way right into next year with delicious gooey cheese. Happy New Year!
Baked Brie with Honey-Garlic Sauce
- 4 – 8 oz. brie
- 3 T. unsalted butter
- 1 large clove of garlic, crushed
- 2 T. honey
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
- parsley, toasted nuts, dried fruit to garnish
- crackers, bread, sliced fruit to serve
Preheat your oven to 325 degrees. Find an ovensafe dish that is just about twice the size of the piece of brie you’re baking. Remove all plastic or other wrapping, but leave the rind on. If your brie is a round with no exposed cheese (completely covered in a rind), cut it in half and separate the halves. If you have wedges of brie, place them in the dish opposite each other so there is room on all sides.
In a small saucepan, melt the butter. Immediately add the garlic and cook for just a minute or so. Remove from the heat and stir in honey and salt, cayenne pepper if using. Pour the melted butter mixture evenly over your brie.
Bake for about 15 mins., until the center softens and begins to ooze out. Remove from the oven and garnish with chopped nuts, dried fruit and/or parsley. Serve warm, as-is, with toast, crackers or sliced fruit. To eat, use a knife to scoop out some of the melted cheese, and make sure to get some honey sauce on the way to your bread. Or, scoop out the gooey cheese into the sauce and serve as a (messy and really fun) dip. The baked rind is absolutely edible, if you are a brie rind fan.
Leftover cheese will keep, but is best warmed up again, and one reheat is about the max. So, plan to eat up that cheese on the first round if you can.