Brie has been one of my favorite cheeses since I was a kid. I think I first discovered brie when I was about 7 years old, and I was immediately won over by its deliciously soft and creamy texture. In fact so much so that I often found myself snacking on brie to the point where I would eat up a whole one…sometimes in less than an afternoon. Oh, how I miss being a kid before I knew anything about calories!
The good thing though about cheese, brie included, is that it’s really very rich in texture and taste, so you don’t necessarily have to eat a whole one to feel full and satisfy your taste buds. And it works great whether as an appetizer or as a dessert. By adding a little sweetness, like the pears, nuts and maple syrup in this recipe, it also caters for those with a sweet tooth while balancing the milky and almost earthy taste of the brie. The brandy and tarragon add a little surprise and make sure the pears do not become overly sweet. And even if you should happen to finish off the whole thing by yourself, be comforted that it’s at least way better for you than cake 🙂
Pears and nuts with brandy and tarragon served on melted brie
1 whole brie, about 14-16 oz (400 g)
3 medium sized pears (preferably ones that are ripe but still firm)
1/2 cup (100 ml) water
3-4 tbsp maple syrup or clear honey
1 handful almonds, chopped
4-5 tbsp cognac or brandy (if you’ve run out of either, dark rum or port wine may serve as a perfectly decent substitute)
4 large sprigs fresh tarragon
Toasted rustic or rye bread
1. Turn on the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit (200 degrees celsius). Place the brie either in a brie baker or ovenproof ceramic pan. Put the brie in the oven to bake once the oven is heated. Let it bake for about 15 min. while you prepare the pears.
2. Slice the pears thinly and throw them into a pan along with the water. Turn the heat up high and let the pears and water reach a boil. Stir while the water begins to evaporate and add the maple syrup or honey. Turn down the heat a notch so the pears don’t brown or burn.
3. Keep stirring until the pears have soaked up the moisture and begin to soften. Then add the brandy and keep stirring for a minute or two, and then add the chopped almonds. Stir for a few minutes more until the rest of the moisture has been soaked up. Turn down the heat low and let the pear and nut mixture cool down a bit.
4. Check the brie. You want it to be melted just before the bursting point when you take it out of the oven. Coarsely chop the tarragon and mix in with the pears. Toast some rye or rustic bread, and then pour the pear and nut mixture over the brie before you serve.