Brie has a velvety white rind and a creamy texture that softens as it ripens. This French cheese becomes downright gooey when baked, which is why it needs to be encased. Alternatives to pastry include oven-proof dishes as well as edible supports, such as bread or vegetables, which serve the purpose of propping up or soaking up the oozing goodness of baked Brie.
As a Whole
Your whole Brie cheese can be transferred into an oven-proof dish roughly the same size as the cheese round for baking. For a more rustic effect, bake it directly in its original wooden box, after removing the waxed paper wrapping. Cut off and discard the top rind and bake the Brie as it is, or season it to your liking. Classic toppings include caramelized onions, cranberry sauce, walnuts and honey or maple syrup, apricot or fig jam, as well as herbs and spices such as thyme, marjoram and nutmeg.
In the Bread
Create your own edible dish using a country-style or sourdough round loaf of bread. Slice off the top and cut out a disk the size of your cheese in the center, leaving a crust at the bottom thick enough to avoid leaks. Cube the removed bread and save it for dipping. Place the cheese into the bread and bake until it reaches a runny consistency. Alternatively, place chunks of bread all around a whole Brie cheese inside of an oven-proof bowl for a fondue-inspired dish. Or, bake thin segments of Brie directly on slices of walnut bread or baguette bread cut lengthwise and brushed with garlic butter.
On the Potatoes
Tartiflette, a cheese and potato dish from Savoy in the French Alps, is quintessential comfort food ideal for cold winter nights. Traditionally made with Reblochon semi-soft cheese, Brie provides a creamier option. Cover the bottom of a lasagna or gratin dish with boiled potatoes. Add a layer of smoked bacon or Italian-style pancetta chopped and fried to a crisp or, as an even richer alternative, pour a mixture of fried onions and bacon deglazed with white wine onto the potatoes. Finish off with a whole Brie cheese, cut horizontally into halves placed on top, and bake.
Into the Vegetables
Another form of edible recipient for baked brie consists of vegetables. Stuff small white button or larger Portobello mushroom caps with chunks of Brie and sprinkle with parsley and chives before baking. For a Provencal take on baked Brie, use it to stuff tomatoes and season with Mediterranean herbs. A more elaborate preparation involves filling cooked artichokes with a mixture of Brie and heavy cream and topping them with Parmesan shavings and almond slivers before baking until the top forms a golden crust.
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