I’ve never thought much of the idea of adding non-cheese ingredients to cheese. Of course I’m entirely comfortable with the antithesis of this — adding cheese to non-cheese ingredients, but sticking foreign objects into a wheel of cheese somehow seemed wrong to me…a kind of cheese rape if you will. I think back to the many terrible cheese-platter cheeses I’ve had in my life…strange colored cheeses stuffed with some type of dried fruit or marmalade…and realize that these bad experiences are what have turned me off to the idea of marrying cheese with other ingredients like fruits and nuts. Well, when I saw a recipe online for baked Brie with thyme and hazelnuts I realized I just might be missing out on a whole world of deliciousness where cheese and non-cheese allies reside peacefully as one.
I was excited to give this idea a try once I got back home to San Diego, and in fact, this was the first recipe I made upon arriving home today. I served it as an appetizer for my grandpa’s birthday dinner and it was gone in minutes. I was actually pretty shocked to see a whole wheel of brie disappear that quickly…I guess I’ll just have to make two next time.
I think next time I’ll actually add a little more of the pineapple slices and nuts. The reason being that when the brie cooks, and hence melts (being cheese and all), it spreads out quite a bit and so even if you cover the cheese completely with toppings going into the oven, it will come out with gaps in the toppings 10 minutes later. So if you want your brie to come out of the oven fully clothed in its fruit and nut friends then either take it out a couple minutes early so it doesn’t melt quite as much or be more liberal with the toppings when your dressing it.
- 1 wheel Brie
- 1/4 pineapple, cut into 3″ long wedges
- 2 Tablespoons + 1 teaspoon butter
- 1 Tablespoon sugar
- 1/2 cup chopped nuts (I used half walnuts, half almonds…chestnuts or pecans would work too)
- 2 teaspoons sage, minced
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Heat 2 Tablespoons butter over medium low heat in a sauté pan. Once melted, add pineapple wedges. Let cook 8 minutes then turn the heat to low and coat the wedge surfaces with half of the sugar. After another couple minutes, flip the pieces of pineapple, and stir them around a bit to coat them better. Sprinkle with the remaining sugar and cook 10 minutes. Continue flipping and coating the pieces until they are very sweet, tender, and lightly browned, about another 5 minutes.
While the pineapple caramelizes, heat a fry pan over medium heat and add the copped nuts. Toss frequently for a few minutes until the nuts are light, crunchy, and slightly browned, then remove from heat. Watch closely, making sure they don’t burn.
Once the pineapple is done, remove and set aside. Add 1 teaspoon butter to the pan and stir in toasted nuts. Stir for a minute or so, until the nuts and caramelized bits left in the pan are combined. Pour into a bowl.
Slice the rind off the top of the cheese and then cut the round in half horizontally. Slice pineapple wedges into thin slices and spread half of them in a circular pattern to cover the bottom layer of Brie. Coat also with half the nuts and sage, then press the top layer firmly over this bottom piece, pressing down before coating the top layer with the remaining toppings.
Cook brie on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet for 8-10 minutes. Remove and serve with a couple sage leaves for garnish.