I recently took one of those online Buzzfeed tests. The test diagnosed me as being an “Extroverted Introvert”. That basically means that I’m a social recluse who throws a wicked party. My personality-type prefers to avoid mingling; opting instead to gawk at the cocktails and hors d’oeuvres in a desperate attempt to appear too engrossed to converse with strangers. A regular dish at my soirees is this baked brie with caramelized onions. People spend so much time eating it, they don’t have the desire to make small-talk.
Baked brie is oozy, luscious, cheese lovin’. I’m fairly convinced that God has a section of it in heaven awaiting my arrival. For that reason alone, I’m on my best behavior at all times…well, except when I have to drive. Or when I have to do groceries close to payday…and weekdays. On weekends I’m not that great either- but, one hundred percent, without a shadow of a doubt, I’m an angel when I’m asleep. I’m getting me my never-ending brie buffet in heaven. For. Sure.
Blasphemy aside, brie is, unquestionably, a versatile cheese to showcase at any soiree you plan to host (or attend, for that matter). I’ve wrapped brie in puff pastry, smoked it, slathered it with fruit compotes, drizzled it in all manner of things (keep it clean); I’ve yet to find disappointment in the eyes of my guests when they’ve eaten it.
Brie is a French cheese, however most of us aren’t fortunate enough to have access to those bries that receive France’s coveted Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée, which France’s way of saying that a cheese is not a bastard cheese from, say, Hoboken (no offense, Jersey). There are many French bries, but only a couple of “AOC-bries”. The reality is, most of the brie that I’ve encountered in my local food markets are impressive in spite of this. If you can find a cheese that is labeled AOC grab it and the non-AOC and compare the two to see if you can tell the difference. I’m banking you won’t be able to.
What is brie? Well, besides my angelic analogy from before, brie is a soft cheese that can be aged, but isn’t always. I prefer the flavor of an aged brie, as I find non-aged (or fresh) bries taste like that glue that I used to eat in kindergarten. Bries have a soft, edible rind, but, funny enough, I watch so many people discard that rind that it makes me cringe. One reason, because the brie will ooze all over their serving platter without the rind to hold it together, and two, because there’s nothing which will make the rind inedible UNLESS it’s moldy or expired. In this recipe, I slice the a fraction of the top of the rind off only to get the mojo flowing and get the cheese nice and molten.
Ready for a mind-bomb? Triple. Créme. Brie. Process it. Absorb it. Exhale. I know. Shhhh…it’s okay. I know.
Triple-créme, heck, even double-créme brie, are enough to make a girl blush. These bries sound just like what they are: cheeses that contain double or triple the amount of butterfat in the cream with which the brie is produced. Up to 80% of butterfat…my word! I need a minute…doesn’t the sound of 80% butterfat make you giddy!??! Not, “I’m going to have a heart attack,” giddy, but, “I’m so happy butterfat exists,” giddy. Butter still has more butterfat than even a triple-créme, so don’t get all hi-falootin’ on me.
I tried a triple-créme brie in a cheese shop on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and ’bout slumped to the floor in a fit of passion. That doggone cheese had me swooning like Juliet on the balcony, y’all. I was done. I haven’t been able to locate a triple-créme here, but when I do, you’ll know about it because I’ll be blowing up your social media.
So, onto the fun stuff. Let’s make us some baked brie and enrobe it with the sweet-savory deliciousness that is caramelized onion. Yes, let’s.
To round out your soiree, prepare a nice meat and cheese tray with the baked brie nestle into the middle like a little piglet…no, not you, the brie.
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Baked Brie Topped with Caramelized Onions
Yield 8 servings
Caramelized onions can be held up to one week in the fridge. Topping a brie with them and baking makes for a quick party treat.
2 tbsp unsalted butter
3 large white onions, peeled and sliced (about 5 cups)
4 cloves garlic, peeled and minced
2 tbsp light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp kosher salt
3/4 cup dry white wine
2 tbsp fresh thyme, chopped
1 19 oz wheel of brie, top rind removed
sliced baguette for serving
In a large sauté pan, heat the butter over medium high heat.
Add the onions and garlic and sweat, until they become glossy, for 3 minutes.
Reduce the heat to med-low and add the brown sugar and salt.
Sauté for 15 minutes or until the onions begin to turn golden brown.
The pan should have a thin brown crust of caramelized liquid. Deglaze the pan by adding the wine and scraping with a wooden spoon to remove the browned bits.
Continue cooking the onions over a low heat until the onions turn a deep brown color. If the onions begin to turn a very dark brown, too quickly, reduce the heat. Cook for an additional 10 minutes.
Add the chopped thyme and cook for 10 minutes more. The onions should be a deep brown color, but should not have a bitter smell.
Remove from the pan to a clean bowl or plate and allow to cool for ten minutes.
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Lightly spray a 6 inch cake pan or ceramic baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.
Place the wheel of brie (you should've sliced off the top rind already) into the baking dish with the cut side up. Nestle it into the pan so it sits level.
Top with your desired amount of caramelized onions (I use about 3/4's of the onions and save the rest for later) and bake for 30-35 minutes, or until the brie has begun to melt.
Remove from the oven and allow to cool for 15 mins to prevent burning your tongue off.
Top with fresh chopped thyme, if desired. Spoon onto toasted baguette slices to enjoy.