Possible scenarios: there are only xx shopping days to Christmas, you are run off your feet, your partner has man flu, your child forgot to tell you s/he needed you to make a shepherd’s costume for the school Nativity play which is TOMORROW, the cat/dog is throwing up in the corner of the kitchen and the car is making peculiar grinding noises, delete as appropriate. You want a fast but tasty lunch or supper, or maybe a fuss-free starter for a supper party (OMG GUESTS!) and you want it before your head explodes.
This gloriously gooey baked cheese takes minutes to prepare, cook and serve, preferably to the sort of people who enjoy diving into a communal dish. Just slap their wrists if they double-dip.Try serving it with crisp crackers or crusty bread for dunking and a few salad leaves on the side. The flavourings can be tweaked according to what you have handy.
I used toasted hazelnuts, thyme leaves and a truffled honey given to me by a generous friend (thanks, Tim) but any well-flavoured runny honey would work here. Ring the changes by substituting Camembert or (as I did in these pictures) Pont-l’Eveque for Brie, swapping the hazelnuts for chopped pecans or toasted almonds, using finely chopped rosemary instead of thyme, spiking it with garlic or poking in a sliver or two of truffle. Actually, I’ve just seen in one of the Sundays supps that Aldi does a truffled Brie which got a big thumbs-up from the reviewer. Ooh, Matron.
I used a small cheese but the cooking times are the same for a bigger one. Please note: I’d be wary of serving this at a buffet party unless you want to be scraping solidified cheese off your floors next day.
Baked Brie with Hazelnuts and Honey
250g whole Brie, Camembert or Pont-l’Eveque
1 heaped tbsp toasted chopped hazelnuts
A few sprigs of thyme
A drizzle of runny honey
Crackers or crusty bread, to serve
Pre-heat the oven to 180C/350F/Gas Mark 4.
Remove the cheese from its wrappings and cross-hatch the top with a sharp knife or, if you don’t like the bloomy rind, thinly slice it off (top only). Put the cheese back in the box, minus the wooden lid.
Poke a few small sprigs of thyme into the cheese, scatter with chopped hazelnuts and a small drizzle of honey. Place it on a baking tray lined with baking parchment in case it leaks. Bake for about 20 minutes or until the cheese is melted and runny.
Remove from the oven and garnish with more hazelnuts, picked thyme leaves and another swirl of honey. Job done.