By contributing writer Mary Cressler
It’s the holiday party season, and if there is one dish that gets me in the festive mood, it’s baked Brie. For me, there’s something that just screams “holiday” about the traditional round of Brie wrapped in pastry dough, baked to perfection, then served with preserves. It’s one of those dishes you see at nearly all holiday parties, and it’s one of the first to be devoured.
But I’ve always noticed about halfway through a typical baked Brie, the cheese begins to re-harden, and the once crispy pastry dough starts to soften. It’s still delicious but just not as appealing to look at.
Instead, try this single serving take on the traditional pastry crusted baked Brie. First of all, they’re easy to make, beautiful to look at, and you get the perfect portion of fresh crispy dough, gooey melted Brie, and sweet jam with each bite.
Whether you are hosting or assigned to bring an appetizer for a party, you can’t go wrong with these individual baked Brie bites with fancy jam.
What is Fancy Jam?
What makes these bites extra special is using the best ingredients you can find. With only four ingredients here, it’s best to use quality cheese and a jam with a compelling story — whether you made the jam yourself or it’s from your favorite local purveyor.
Here in Oregon, I can’t get enough of Republic of Jam. This Carlton, Oregon based company sources all of their ingredients locally, and all of their products have a unique twist on them, like Cranberry Chipotle Jam, Cranberry Bourbon Vanilla Jam, or Marionberry Espresso Jam. One of my favorites is their Mixed Berry Balsamic Jam, and that’s what I use to top these Brie bites. When I serve the bites, I have the jar of jam on display to share the story of my favorite jam producer and allow guests to taste an extra bit of the sweet spread.
Each ingredient, whether it’s a specialty Brie or locally made jam, will elevate the dish to a new level. It’s one way to give a simple dish “wow” factor.
- 1 sheet store bought frozen puff pastry
- 4 ounces Brie cheese, cut into ½ inch squares (you can get 24-36 pieces, depending on the size of your muffin pan)
- ⅓ cup preserves (I use Republic of Jam Mixed Berry Balsamic Jam)
- ¼ cup chopped pecans
- 1 tablespoon butter (for the pecans)
- ½ tablespoon brown sugar (for the pecans)
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Grease muffin pan cups with nonstick spray.
- Unfold the pastry sheet on a lightly floured surface and gently roll the pastry out. Cut into 24 or 36 2-inch squares (see note).
- Gently press each square into a muffin cup.
- Bake for 8-10 minutes until they look nearly cooked. Remove from oven and push down on the center with the bottom of a rubber spatula or spoon, making room for the jam and cheese.
- Fill with ½ teaspoon jam and then top with a square of Brie.
- Bake about 5 minutes more until the Brie is nice and melted.
- Meanwhile, heat a small skillet to medium heat. Add butter, then chopped pecans. Cook for 2-3 minutes. Add the brown sugar and cook for 2 more minutes, stirring constantly. Remove from heat.
- Once Brie bites come out of the oven, top with the candied pecans.
But is there a wine for this dish? You betcha!
Wines for Holiday Parties
When choosing wines for a holiday gathering, I know there will be a variety of foods to nibble on and a variety of people with different tastes. I like to look for crowd-pleasing wines, both red and white, that are budget friendly (i.e., under $20). Unless the goal of the party is a blind wine tasting, I’m not busting out my collection of weird and obscure wines. Instead, I’m looking for wines that will please most crowds.
I also find it important to have at least one red option and at least one white option, because you’re always going to have that one person who only drinks white (or only red).
Below are a few crowd favorites that will not only pair nicely with these Brie bites, but also the wide variety of other holiday appetizers that you’ll likely find at a party.
Love it or hate it, it’s still widely popular with crowds and would be good to have on hand. The unoaked versions will be bright, refreshing, and a great aperitif, while heavier oaked Chardonnays will be comforting and pair well with baked goods, creamy dips with toasted baguette, shrimp dishes, and more.
- Domaines Barons de Rothschild Lafite Los Vascos Chardonnay, Peralillo, Chile ($10)
- Chateau Ste. Michelle Indian Wells Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, Washington ($14)
- Rodney Strong Chardonnay, Sonoma County, California ($15)
Those who are not fans of drier wines like Chardonnay may be more drawn to something fruitier and perhaps even sweet. These will pair nicely with the wide variety of sweeter foods you find at holiday parties.
- Hogue Cellars Riesling, Columbia Valley, Washington ($8)
- Willamette Valley Vineyards Riesling, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($10)
- Ravines Dry Riesling, Finger Lakes, New York ($16)
One of my favorite party wines, Pinot Noir, proves to be incredibly versatile with food. It has bright cranberry and cherry flavors and bright acidity, and it won’t clash with all the appetizers flowing about. Look for fruity examples from the US, South America, and even New Zealand.
- Robert Mondavi Winery Private Selection Pinot Noir, California ($9)
- Veramonte Pinot Noir Reserva, Casablanca Valley, Chile ($12)
- A to Z Wineworks Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, Oregon ($18)
You also can’t go wrong with sparkling wine and rosé at any holiday party!
Now I want to hear what you’re planning to serve at your next holiday gathering. You might want to also check out my Cranberry and Red Wine Meatballs.
We hope you enjoy our wine pairing choices. If you want to know which wines YOU will like best, download the FREE iPhone app Wine4.Me. Tell it what wines you know you like and get your own personalized rankings of best-selling, widely available wines in the US.
Mary Cressler is a Certified Sommelier, a Wine Location Specialist, and the proprietor of Vindulge: Wine Education & Consulting. She conducts wine classes and events and offers consulting for individuals, restaurants, and event planners.
She writes about wine, food, and travel on her blog Vindulge. Mary resides in Portland, Oregon with her husband, twin boys, and two Chihuahuas.