Elegant Brie en Croute: A Showstopping Recipe for Thanksgiving
Brie en croute is the ultimate elegant appetizer for the holidays.
This classic French dish features creamy brie cheese wrapped in flaky puff pastry and baked to golden brown perfection.
The contrasting textures and decadent flavors make this baked brie the perfect addition to any holiday table.
This article will cover everything you need to know to make this impressive yet easy-baked brie at home.
You’ll find a step-by-step recipe, tips for choosing ingredients, assembling and baking, serving suggestions, adaptations, variations, and the history and origins of brie en croute. Let’s get started!
All About Brie En Croute
Brie en croute, which translates to Brie in crust, is composed of two main elements:
- Brie Cheese – This soft cheese has a white, bloomy rind and a smooth, creamy interior. It has a rich, buttery flavor that pairs perfectly with the crisp, flaky pastry. A wheel of brie is ideal, as the rind helps contain the oozing center when baked.
- Puff Pastry – Light and flaky puff pastry provides the crisp, golden crust. The distinct layers are created by repetitively folding butter into the dough. When baked, the water in the butter evaporates and causes the dough to puff up.
Part of the appeal of brie en croute is the contrast of textures.
The warm, gooey cheese and buttery crisp pastry is an indulgent combination.
The dish also has an elegant presentation, making it ideal for serving at parties and special occasions.
Ingredients you will need
- 1 (8-ounce) wheel of brie cheese
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- 1 egg, beaten
- 2 tablespoons fig jam, apricot jam, or preserves
- 1⁄4 cup chopped toasted nuts (pecans, walnuts or almonds)
- 1⁄2 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves
Selecting the Best Ingredients
Great ingredients are key for any recipe, and brie en croute is no exception. Here are some tips for choosing optimal brie and puff pastry:
- Wheel rather than wedge – A wheel contains the molten center better than a wedge.
- Higher fat content – Triple creme brie (75% fat) is ideal, compared to double creme (60% fat) or regular brie (45% fat). More fat equals a creamier melt.
- Artisanal or imported – High quality brie from small producers or imported French brie provides superior flavor.
- Soft ripeness – Choose a soft and creamy brie that still holds its shape when you gently press the top and sides. If it’s too firm, it won’t melt enough. Overly runny brie will make a big mess.
- All butter – The best puff pastries are made with pure butter rather than shortening. Butter provides superior flavor and flakiness.
- Fresh – Use puff pastry within 1-2 days of thawing for optimal rise and flakiness.
- No cracks or thawing – Select pastry that is free of cracks and thaw according to package directions so the layers remain intact.
Why It's Perfect for Thanksgiving
Beyond just being delicious, brie en croute offers much to appreciate at a Thanksgiving gathering:
- Dramatic Tablescape – Present the puffed, golden wheel as a centerpiece.
- Fall Flavors – Infuse the brie with pecans, apple, thyme and other autumn ingredients.
- Gets Party Started – A rich cheese course enhances the occasion.
- Easy Elegance – Looks gourmet but is simple to assemble.
- Kid-Friendly – Little helpers can lend a hand with prep.
Give thanks this Turkey Day by serving this sensational baked brie! Check out more top Thanksgiving appetizer recipes to kick off your meal.
Choosing Seasonal Ingredients
One of the joys of preparing brie en croute for Thanksgiving is selecting autumnal ingredients that reflect the flavors of the holiday:
- Pears – Fresh sliced pears or pear butter
- Cranberries – Fresh berries, dried cranberries, cranberry sauce
- Pecans – Toasted chopped pecans
- Apples – Sliced apples or apple butter
- Pumpkin – Puréed or pumpkin pie spice blend
- Persimmons – Sliced persimmons or persimmon jam
- Pomegranate – Seeds or pomegranate spread
- Hazelnuts – Toasted chopped hazelnuts
- Cinnamon – Ground or sticks for garnish
- Thyme – Fresh thyme leaves or lemon thyme
The possibilities for seasonal flavor combinations are endless. Allow the fillings and toppings to shine through with delicious choices that evoke autumn.
Servings, Prep / Cook Time and Calories
Here are the details for servings, prep and cook time, and calories per serving for the brie en croute recipe:
Servings: This recipe makes 8 servings
Prep time: 10 minutes to assemble ingredients and prepare puff pastry
Cook time: 20 minutes to bake the brie en croute
Total time: 30 minutes
Calories per serving:
Based on 8 servings, using a 8 oz wheel of brie and a full sheet of puff pastry, the calories break down as:
- Brie cheese: 400 calories
- Puff pastry: 320 calories
- Cranberry compote: 60 calories
- Pecans: 180 calories
- Total Calories: 960
- Calories per serving: 120
So for the complete brie en croute recipe with a 8 oz wheel of brie cheese wrapped in puff pastry, cranberries, and pecans, each of the 8 servings contains approximately 120 calories.
Brie en croute is fantastic on its own but can also be served with a variety of accompaniments:
- Bread – Sliced baguette, french bread, sourdough, pancakes
- Crackers – Flaky butter crackers, water crackers, wheat crackers
- Fruit – Sliced pears, apples, grapes, figs, strawberries
- Nuts – Walnuts, pecans, hazelnuts
- Jams – Fig jam, cranberry sauce, pepper jelly
- Veggies – Celery, apple slices, roasted potatoes
- Meat – Prosciutto, smoked salmon, turkey
Serve an assortment of these items in a basket alongside the brie and let guests assemble their own crackers.
Offer spreading knives so the brie is easy to top crackers or bread.
For parties, consider serving alongside a charcuterie or cheese board. The baked brie makes a nice centerpiece!
Adapting the Recipe
While a classic brie en croute is perfect, the recipe is also very adaptable:
- Switch up the cheese – Try camembert, goat cheese or gouda.
- Use ready-made dough – Phyllo, pie crust or pizza dough can sub for puff.
- Make mini portions – Cut small rounds of brie and dough for single servings.
- Individual triangles – Cut the wheel into triangles before wrapping in pastry.
- Savory additions – Layer prosciutto, roasted garlic or caramelized onions between the brie and dough.
- Sweet flavors – Coat brie in fig preserves, honey, brown sugar or chopped fruit before wrapping.
- Herb coatings – Roll coated herbs like parsley, rosemary or thyme into the outer dough layers before baking for pretty speckled pastry.
Feel free to get creative with the flavors and shapes! No matter what, the hot melted brie and crisp pastry will be a winning combination.
Is Brie En Croute Difficult to Make?
Many people are intimidated by making brie en croute, but it’s actually quite easy! Here is a look at the level of difficulty:
Ingredient Prep – EASY
- Thaw puff pastry according to package
- Allow brie to come to room temperature
- Prepare any fillings
Assembly – EASY to MODERATE
- Folding the pastry neatly does take some practice
- Work slowly and carefully seal seams
- Watch videos to learn techniques
Baking – EASY
- Simply bake until pastry is browned and puffed
- No complicated culinary techniques needed
Serving – EASY
- Cool briefly before transferring to serving platter
- Provide knives for spreading melted brie
With store-bought puff pastry, assembly really is straightforward. And any imperfections in wrapping are hidden once baked!
It may take a try or two to master the process, but you’ll soon be making brie en croute for parties with ease.
Troubleshooting Common Brie En Croute Problems
Even easy recipes can have mishaps. Here are some common brie en croute problems and how to prevent them:
Pastry won’t puff – Be sure to keep the pastry cold while working to prevent premature puffing. Allow to thaw thoroughly or the butter won’t melt properly. And don’t overwork the dough.
Brie leaks out – Choose a wheel with rind intact to contain it. Allow brie to come to room temp before baking so it doesn’t crack. Don’t overbake.
Pastry oozes butter – Too warm dough causes butter leaks. Keep it chilled until ready to bake. Or the oven may be too hot, lower 25 degrees.
Underdone pastry – Bake until deep golden brown, up to 20 minutes. Cover with foil if browning too fast. Make sure oven is preheated.
Burnt bottom – Use parchment paper, not just greased foil, for insulation from the pan. Tent foil over top if needed.
Bland flavor – Choose high quality cheese and pastry for the best flavor. Add herbs, spices, fruit or nuts for a flavor boost.
With a few simple precautions, your brie en croute will turn out perfectly on the first try!
Elegant Holiday Presentation Tips
One reason brie en croute shines at the holidays is the elegant presentation. Here are some tips for serving it with flair:
- Keep it whole initially for dramatic effect, then slice at the table.
- Garnish the platter with fresh rosemary, thyme, cranberries or ornament picks.
- Serve on a decorative cutting board or marble slab for rustic flair.
- Provide delicate knives for spreading the brie onto breads and crackers.
- Pair with fine wines, like sparkling, white burgundy, or dessert wine.
- Arrange fruit or crackers around the brie. Group in threes or fives for visual appeal.
- Clean lines look modern – wrap brie in parchment then foil for smooth sides.
- Add a pop of color with the filling, like raspberry jam and mint leaves.
With its golden crust and jewel-tone drizzle, brie en croute really shines as a centerpiece. Follow these tips to make it the star of your holiday table!
History and Origins
The luxurious combination of French cheese and pastry in brie en croute has made it an iconic appetizer. But where exactly did it originate?
Ancient Roman Inspiration – Savory pastries and pies filled with cheese have roots in ancient Roman cooking. Early versions of buttery-enriched doughs and cheese fillings influenced medieval European bakers.
French Brie & Puff Pastry – Both brie and puff pastry were developed in France, so the two ingredients were naturally paired. Brie dates back to the 8th century in the Brie region. The art of folding butter into pastry for puff pastry arose in the 16th century.
19th Century Popularity – As high-quality dairy and wheat production increased in France in the 1800s, rich baked goods like brie en croute became more accessible. The dish was likely perfected in French kitchens during this time.
French Culinary Influence – Haute French cuisine and techniques became popular worldwide in the early 20th century, spreading brie en croute abroad. It became a fixture on restaurant menus and elegant home dinner parties.
Modern Convenience – The rise of frozen puff pastry in grocery stores starting in the 1970s made preparing brie en croute fast and easy, even for home cooks. Its popularity at parties grew.
Today, brie en croute remains a French classic but is beloved worldwide as an easy yet impressive appetizer for special occasions.
The formula of wrapping brie in puff pastry produces decadent results no matter where you enjoy it!
Make It for Your Next Holiday Feast!
Brie en croute not only tastes amazing but adds beauty and elegance to holiday celebrations:
- Visually Stunning – The puffed, golden crust makes a dramatic centerpiece.
- Decadent Indulgence – The combo of creamy cheese and crispy pastry provides rich satisfaction.
- Adaptable Flavors – Fill with choices to please all palates.
- Perfect for Sharing – The large round feeds a Thanksgiving crowd.
- Easy Elegance – Looks gourmet but is simple to assemble with store-bought ingredients.
- Makes Great Gifts – Wrap up extras as edible favors for guests.
This baked brie starter ensures your holiday feast begins and ends on a high note!
Serve brie en croute this Thanksgiving for an elegant appetizer with autumnal flair.
The contrast of flaky pastry and creamy brie makes a decadent impression, while seasonal fruits and nuts add holiday spirit.
Follow our step-by-step recipe for assembling this dramatic centerpiece. With incredible flavor, delightful textures, and harvest-inspired ingredients, brie en croute is sure to have your guests giving thanks!
Make it easy to find this elegant brie en croute again by saving the image below to your Pinterest account.