Necessity is often the mother of beautiful invention, and this recipe is a perfect example. I had invited a few friends round for patio cocktails, but the weather made it a rather on and off proposition. But the sky cleared and I realized I really needed to have some sort of nibble to go with the drinks, but had not planned anything. I did however have in the fridge a wheel of brie (I try to keep one on hand, because then you always have a party in the making). As it happened, I had some blueberries waiting for recipe inspiration to hit. No ideas had come to me up to that point and the blueberries where nearing the end of their useful life. Everyone loves a baked brie, so I threw this together, again using odds and ends I had on hand – a shallot, some hazelnuts from the freezer, a dose of balsamic and a few leaves of sage. I knew it would be tasty, but it turned out better than I had imagined, so I knew it was the blueberry recipe inspiration I had been waiting for. It was gobbled up and much complimented.
I lay out a certain method here that produces a melted pool of brie and conserve that is almost dippable and I love it that way. Bringing the brie to room temp then cooking it slightly before adding the topping creates this effect. If you prefer your brie just warmed through, simply spoon the berries over the cheese and stick it straight in the oven. I love to stir some berries into the conserve after it has cooked to a jammy thickness to add little pops of texture. Hazelnuts and sage are a really interesting and unique pairing with the blueberries, but tarragon or basil would be equally as good, as would almonds or walnuts. The conserve also works beautifully with camembert
Baked Brie with Blueberry Hazelnut Conserve
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 small shallot
1 1/4 cup blueberries, divided
1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh sage
2 Tablespoons balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon honey
1 Tablespoon water
2 Tablespoons finely chopped hazelnuts
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 (8-ounce) round of brie
- Put the olive oil in a small, high sided skillet. Finely mince the shallot and add to the olive oil then heat over medium heat until the shallots are softened, but not browning. Add 1 cup of the blueberries, the balsamic, honey, water and half of the chopped sage. Cook, stirring frequently, until the berries have broken down and the mixture is reduced and syrupy. This will take anywhere from 5 – 15 minutes depending on the ripeness of your berries. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the hazelnuts, the remaining sage and the ¼ cup of blueberries. Season with salt and pepper and leave to cool for 20 minutes or so (but this can be made hours ahead).
- Remove the brie from the fridge, and while cold, use a sharp thin knife to cut the rind from the top of the round. You don’t have to cut all of it away, just expose some of the lovely creamy center. Spray a small oven proof baking dish with cooking spray and set the brie, exposed side up, in the dish. Leave the brie to come to room temperature.
- When ready to serve, preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Put the brie in the oven for 10 minutes, then remove it and spoon the blueberry conserve over the top of the brie. Cook for a further 10 minutes or so, until the cheese is melty and the conserve bubbling.
- Serve with crackers or baguette toasts.
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