Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Brie En Croûte with Cranberries & Pecans

Creamy soft ripened French brie is an elegant start to any meal. When topped with exquisite ingredients and wrapped in delicate buttery puff pastry, this rich and flavourful Brie en Croûte with Cranberries and Pecans will impress even the most discerning gourmand. 

The term en croûte translates as in a crust, and refers to any food wrapped in pastry and baked. Light and flakey, this wheel of creamy Brie, topped with dried cranberries, brown sugar and chopped pecans is wrapped in store-bought puff pastry and folded up like a precious gift, with decorative pastry leaves nestled on top. Brushed with an egg wash, the pastry wrapped brie is placed on a parchment lined baking sheet and baked for about half an hour at 375°F, until the pastry is golden brown. 

The first slice will seduce any guest, as the melted cheese oozes invitingly from the flakey dome, dotted with chopped pecans and tart cranberries. Brie an Croûte is lovely served with sliced pears, seedless grapes, assorted biscuits or baguette toasts — a perfect hors d'oeuvres for any festive gathering. You can also make mini bite-size versions, which aren’t quite as impressive, but have all the luscious flavour in a dainty little bite.

Cranberry & Pecan Brie en Croûte
Serves 8-10

1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
1 large egg
1 tbsp water 

1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup cranberry sauce
1 8-oz wheel of Brie cheese
1/3 cup chopped pecans
1 tbsp butter
1/4 tsp cinnamon
1/4 cup brown sugar

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, mix together egg and water. In another small bowl, soak the dried cranberries in 1 cup of hot water for 2 minutes, then drain and pat dry on some paper towel. Place in a bowl with the cranberry sauce.

Unfold puff pastry on lightly floured surface. Roll into a 14-inch square, then cut off the corners to make a circle. Place Brie in the middle of the puff pastry. Trim the top rind off the Brie if you prefer — this will makes it easier to cut and serve.

In a small saucepan, melt butter. Stir in pecans and toast for about 3 minutes. Place the pecan mixture on top of the Brie, followed by the brown sugar. The heat of the pecan mixture will help melt the brown sugar. Finish by spooning the cranberry sauce with dried cranberries on top of brown sugar.

Brush the edge of the pastry circle with egg mixture. Fold two opposite sides of the pastry over the cheese; then fold over the other two sides, pressing the edges firmly together to seal. Place the pastry wrapped cheese seam-side down on a parchment lined baking sheet, and brush the entire surface with egg mixture.

Using a sharp paring knife, cut leaf shapes from left over pastry dough, scoring the tops to look like leaf veins. Apply the pastry leaves to the surface, and brush with the remaining egg wash. 
Bake for 20-25 minutes or until the pastry is a deep golden brown. Let rest about 20 minutes. Serve warm on a decorative platter, slicing it open by cutting out the first wedge and allowing the brie to ooze out invitingly. Serve with a selection of savoury biscuits or toasted baguette, and garnish with purple grapes.