This post is sponsored by Pepperidge Farm Puff Pastry, which supplied me with a stipend for time and materials to participate in the Puffection™ Springtime Entertaining Challenge. However, as you guys know, I’ve been using PF’s frozen puff pastry (aka “the party pastry”) for years, so they did not have to buy my love.
The one where the guys practice their golf swing on the toilet? That’s my jam.
But deep down, I know I’ve just been waiting for the right gadget to come along and solve my own special problem.
That special humiliation that comes from trying to slice the brie (yes, cut the cheese) at a party, only it won’t slice, because when brie cools, it has the texture of Silly Putty that’s been left in a hot car. It seems soft and squishy, but it will not slice. Not with a plastic knife. Not with a chainsaw. So you’re left to either a.) stab and mangle a perfectly lovely appetizer or b.) collect a sliver of just the pastry and what’s left of your dignity and hope for sausage balls.
So, when Pepperidge Farm asked me to come up with a recipe for their Puffection™ Springtime Entertaining Challenge, I was on a mission to solve this brie thing. I checked out their recipe site and noticed a ton of recipes calling for you to slice a pastry sheet into squares and bake them in mini muffin pans, giving you a little golden-brown army of puff pastry cups to do your bidding.
Some were filled with stuffed cherry tomatoes. Some were filled with sweetened berries.
I went with my favorite brie combination from the Copper Kettle here in Nashville: brie baked in puff pastry with cherries and pecans. And it worked! Especially after I added some amaretto liqueur (hello, Disaronno) to the cherry filling.
These two-bite appetizers would be perfect for bridal showers, brunch, birthday parties and any other occasion (like Tuesdays!) that would be improved by melted cheese that you don’t have to slice in public. What could be better?
Here’s how you make them:
Start by rolling out one sheet of puff pastry into a 12-inch square. Then, grab a ruler or measuring tape, divide the pastry into 36 squares, and press the squares into the cups of a well-sprayed mini muffin pan or two.
(The squares will be thin, so don’t feel bad if all 36 don’t make it. Shoot for 24.)
Bake them at 400 degrees F for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, instead of trying to get past Candy Crush Saga level 65 (aka Hell), measure the cherry preserves and amaretto liqueur into a bowl, and stir them together.
Amaretto is a sweet almond-flavored liqueur. I tried several combinations – cherries with brandy, bourbon, balsamic vinegar, etc. – but the amaretto and cherry combo was the best. Cherries and almonds are just meant to be together. Like Kim and Kanye.
However, if you don’t like amaretto, just leave it out. Or, replace it with a little almond extract. Add a small amount at first, maybe 1/4 teaspoon, and taste as you go. You’ve got nine minutes until those pastries come out of the oven. Might as well get the filling like you want it.
When the pastries are ready, use your finger or the end of a wooden spoon to gently press the middle of each square until you can see a round indentation.
You’ll need them to hold everything in place.
Fill the indentations you just made with cherry preserves. Then top the preserves with those pieces of brie.
(I tried it once with the brie on the bottom, but the preserves ran over the top and stuck to the pan. It was not cool.)
Finally, sprinkle your chopped pecans (or slivered almonds) on top of the brie.
Make it rain on these bites!!!
Then pop the pastries back in the oven until the cheese gets soft and gooey.
Look at that! A little army of flaky puff pastries carrying creamy brie, boozy preserves and crunchy pecans for the good of the land. And, best of all, no more cutting the cheese in public.
Someone, get engaged. I need an excuse to make these again.
Baked Brie Bites with Cherries and Pecans
Feel free to substitute almond extract for the liqueur. Just add 1/4 teaspoon at first, and adjust the amount to your taste.
From Rebecca Crump (Ezra Pound Cake)
- 1/2 of a 17.3-ounce package Pepperidge Farm® Puff Pastry Sheets (1 sheet), thawed
- Flour, for rolling
- 1/3 cup cherry preserves
- 1/2 to 1 tablespoon amaretto liqueur (recommended: Disaronno)
- 1 (4-ounce) wedge of brie, cut into 36 pieces
- 1/4 cup chopped pecans or slivered almonds
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees F. Grease 36 mini muffin-pan cups with nonstick spray.
- Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface. Dust your rolling pin with flour, and roll the pastry into a 12-inch square. Then cut it into 36 (2-inch) squares. Press the pastry squares into the bottoms and up the sides of your prepared mini muffin-pan cups.
- Bake for 10 minutes.
- In the meantime, grab a small bowl, and stir together the cherry preserves and amaretto liqueur. Set aside.
- Using your finger or the end of a wooden spoon, gently press the middle of each pastry square to make an indentation. Fill with 1/2 teaspoon cherry preserves. Top each with a piece of brie, and sprinkle with pecans.
- Return the pastries to the oven, and bake until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. Cool in the pans on wire racks for 3 minutes. Transfer the bites to a platter, and serve warm.
- Easy Substitution: You can substitute apricot, blueberry, fig, peach, raspberry, or strawberry preserves for the cherry preserves in this recipe and simply omit the liqueur. Red pepper jelly or a combination of light brown sugar, bourbon and pecans would be pretty amazing, too.