Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Brie Dip with Walnut Honey

As you’ve probably figured out by now, I have a thing about snacks. I love eating little bites of lots of things, and I love to entertain in a social, mobile way so people can enjoy delicious food but also mix and mingle with everyone in the room. I literally wrote the book on Southern Snacks. But not all my snacks are strictly Southern. The recipe here is for my favorite kind of snack – one that people gather around and can’t step away from until the dish is empty.

This recipe is a treat for fall and combines creamy cheese and nuts, with the perfect balance of sweet and savory. It’s hot and bubbly and comforting. I love to serve this with apple or pear slices and some crispy baguette slices, but any hearty cracker will do. It is easier to remove the rind from the Brie while its cold, but it blends better when it is a room temperature.

Brie Dip with Walnut Honey

1 (8-ounce) wheel of brie

4 Tablespoons mascarpone

1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, plus a few whole stems

Salt and pepper

1 ½ cup chopped walnuts

¼ cup honey

A few red pepper flakes

Cut the rind from the brie, then cut it into chunks and place it in the bowl of a small food processor. Add the mascarpone and leave to come to room temperature (it is easier to remove the rind from cold, firm brie). Add the thyme and salt and pepper to taste a process until smooth and well combined. Spread the mix evenly in a small baking dish, smoothing the top to an even layer.

While the cheese is coming to room temperature, toast the walnuts in a dry skillet over medium high until fragrant and lightly browned. Remove to a plate to cool. Wipe out the skillet and pour in the honey. Drop in a few sprigs of thyme and the red pepper flakes and heat over low heat until the honey is loose and just starting to bubble at the edges. Remove from the heat and leave to infuse for 15 minutes. Stir in the walnuts.

Remove the thyme stalks from the honey mixture and spread it evenly over the top of the brie. At this point, the dip can be made several hours ahead, covered and refrigerated. When ready to bake, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Let the baking dish come close to room temperature, then bake for 10 – 12 minutes, until the cheese is bubbly and gooey.

Serve with baguette toasts and apple slices.

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