Baked Brie with Fig Jam in Phyllo Dough
Prepare yourselves: this is the most scrumptious of appetizers (slash desserts?!) and one that I usually associate with winter time… But let’s face it: it’s always the season for cheese.
(Unless you are vegan, in which case, hold tight for another vegan recipe on Monday!)
This recipe comes straight from the genius that is my little sister’s brain in the kitchen. Or maybe she got this recipe from someone else originally; I’m not sure.
I just know that she’s been making it for years now, usually for our family’s winter solstice party, and it might– at first glance– seem like the kind of decadence that should be tucked away safely, where it can do no harm to anyone, and deliberately reserved for only once a year:
Warm, melty brie, spread with sweet fig jam, and enveloped in soft buttery layers of phyllo dough that are baked to a crisp.
Then you spread that whole gooey delicacy on fresh bread.*
So now you see the once-a-year logic.
Sometimes, though, it’s nice to treat yourself to a once-a-year treat more than once a year. (I almost feel like that sentence could have been a palindrome of sorts.)
Last week for example. Let’s just say that I had a stressful dissertation week** and on top of that I found myself on call for jury duty, which had me worried that I’d have to miss a day of teaching (first-year Japanese!). I really could have used this baked brie then.
And believe me, you do not need to save this recipe for winter; I made it for my birthday party in August, and that worked Just. Fine.
The fig jam makes for a delightful sweet and savory combination, with the sweetness of the figs melding perfectly into the tangy sharpness of the cheese.
If you still need more convincing, I want to add that I think baked brie and non-baked brie are two entirely different categories of edibles. Once it starts bubbling away in the oven, brie undergoes a change of state. I’m talking a difference on the degree of those among ice, water, and steam. (Which is why it’s essential to enjoy this cheese while it’s hot.)
Seriously, serve this at your next party, winter solstice season or not.
* Shown in the photos: Homemade Ciabatta.
** Imagine how much more stressful my dissertation will be once I actually start writing it!
Baked Brie with Fig Jam in Phyllo Dough
(Serves 6-12 as an appetizer, depending on the amount of brie)
~ 8-16 sheets phyllo dough (thawed overnight in the fridge)
~ 2-4 Tbsp. butter, melted
~ wheel or wedge of brie cheese (just use a much larger glass baking dish for more brie)
~ 3-6 Tbsp. fig jam or preserves (I used my no-pectin fig jam), or some other fruit spread
~ fresh bread or crackers to spread it on
How to make it:
1. Pre-heat the oven to 350 degrees. Choose a suitable oven-proof baking dish that will fit your wheel or wedge of brie cheese. (A very small wheel is pictured here, but I use an 8″x8″ glass baking dish when baking much larger wedges of brie to serve at parties.)
2. Spread out a layer of phyllo dough across the bottom of your baking dish, and lightly brush the center with melted butter. Continue layering in phyllo dough, brushing the center of each layer with butter, until you have about 6-8 layers on the bottom, then add the cheese.
3. Wrap one or two of the phyllo dough layers around from the bottom of the brie over the top of it, brushing each with additional butter. If there is not enough dough from below to cover the entire top of the brie, then patch with additional phyllo dough from a new sheet, removing extra edges or tucking them down around the sides of the cheese. Then spread on the fig jam across the top.
4. Continue wrapping the rest of the phyllo dough from the sides up and over the brie to cover the fig jam, brushing butter between each layer. Patch with additional phyllo dough if necessary, until you have about 4-6 layers on top. If it looks too patchy, you can just add one final sheet of phyllo dough to smooth over the top. Generously brush the top with butter.
Covered with 2 layers of phyllo, pre-fig jam; and post-fig jam, ready to go in the oven.
5. Bake for 10-25 minutes (start checking on it around 10 minutes, though it will probably take more like 20), until the phyllo dough has started to brown and get crispy. (In a dish that’s not as well fitted to the shape of the brie, the cheese might start to bubble out of the sides… don’t worry; it will still taste great!)
6. Serve immediately as a warm spread for fresh bread or crackers.