Some culinary combinations are unusually difficult to resist, from strawberries and cream to anything that includes pork, salt and smoke. One of those sure-fire combinations is anything involving a crisp crust and oozing, gooey melted cheese, which explains why baked Brie is such a well-loved appetizer. Assembling baked Brie requires quite a bit of time and concentration, so it's often simpler to prepare it ahead of time.
Baked Brie Basics
baked brie can be enjoyed with or without a crust of puff pastry. If you like yours without pastry, there's little benefit to making it up ahead of time. Just drop a wheel of Brie into a Brie baker or other baking dish, and pop it into the oven. If you prefer yours with a crust -- the French-style "Brie en croute" -- it must be wrapped first in puff pastry. Most recipes call for the wheel of Brie to be garnished with either caramelized onions or a fruit-based topping before it's sealed up. It can be stored either baked or unbaked, whichever suits your needs.
If you want to prepare one or more baked Bries ahead of time for later use, keeping them unbaked is your best option. Prepare the Brie according to your favorite recipe, mounding the toppings into place and then brushing the pastry with a beaten egg to seal it. Carefully slide each Brie and its puff pastry wrapper onto a piece of plastic film wrap, and seal it airtight. Freeze the wrapped Brie flat, in its own spot on your freezer's shelf, then bag the frozen wheel in a heavy-duty freezer bag. Puff pastry is reasonably durable when it's frozen, but try to keep your Brie in a section of the freezer where it won't be handled often or crushed.
A second option is to prepare your Brie, brush it with beaten egg and bake it until the pastry is golden. Once the cheese has cooled to room temperature, place it in a protective sealed container and refrigerate it for two to four days. After that, its flavor and texture will begin to deteriorate. For longer storage, wrap the pastry carefully in plastic wrap and freeze it in a sealed container. Once it has been baked, puff pastry is extremely fragile, so freezing it in a bag is usually a bad idea. It's far too easy for the pastry to be damaged in your freezer.
Heating and Serving
A fully baked Brie only needs to be reheated in your oven. Use the gentlest heat your oven can manage, usually 175 to 200 degrees Fahrenheit. After 25 to 35 minutes, the crust will return to its original crispness and the cheese will once again be runny and soft. Its texture won't be quite as lush and creamy as it was when first baked, but it will still taste fine. If you freeze your Brie unbaked, it should go directly from the freezer to your oven. Brush the frozen pastry with a beaten egg, then bake it in a preheated 350-degree oven for 45 to 55 minutes. The longer it bakes, the softer the cheese will become.
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Fred Decker is a trained chef and prolific freelance writer. In previous careers, he sold insurance and mutual funds, and was a longtime retailer. He was educated at Memorial University of Newfoundland and the Northern Alberta Institute of Technology. His articles have appeared on numerous home and garden sites including GoneOutdoors, TheNest and eHow.
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