When it comes to cheese varieties, brie is about as classy as it gets. Some posh diplomats in France once even declared it the “king of cheeses,” which is saying a lot because the French really know their cheeses (they invented nearly 400 varieties). With its rich, silky texture and its creamy, buttery flavor, brie really deserves more love than it gets, so here are some deliciously awesome reasons you should serve brie at your next holiday party (and show off your supreme holiday party game).
Unlike many cheeses, brie does not have a distinctly salty flavor. It is quite mild, more similar to cream cheese than to cheddar. Brie’s major flavor contribution, however, is its rich, fresh, milky (almost buttery) note, which makes it a perfect canvas for pairings with such sweets as honey, jams, or preserves.
Conversely, like any other cheese, you can just as successfully pair brie with a variety of cold-cut meats. The creaminess of the brie will help highligh the flavors in the meat, as well as any herbs (like basil) that you may wish to include.
The mildness of brie’s flavor makes it incredibly versatile, which means it can serve as a great backdrop for any wild flavor combinations your little heart desires. Prosciutto and figs, bacon and pears, honey and pistachios, the variations are endless.
You can never go wrong with a cheese sandwich, but you can up your game by substituting brie for plain old American cheese. Then, play around with some unique flavor combos by throwing in some smoky, spicy paprika chicken, tangy lemon drizzle, or tart cranberries.
Gooey, warm brie, sandwiched between two buttery, crispy pieces of bread makes for a perfect lunch idea, but can just as easily be turned into a glorious appetizer (just cut those babies up!). Plus, this leaves you totally free to create a medley of flavor by simply adding a few extra ingredients of your choice; be that sweet, tangy, savory, or any variation of the three.
The combination of textures here is just as majestic as the combination of flavors. What sets this apart from the typical brie-and-fruit combination is that the cheese is not baked, which means that it’s solid rather than melted, so when you bite into each piece, the flavors from the brie and fruit do not quite fuse together as they do in a baked recipe. The sweetness of the fruit is distinct from the buttery flavor of the brie, just like their respective textures. These stark differences actually make for a great combination, as the flavors and textures really pierce through one another, allowing you to taste each distinctly within one appetizer.
I don’t think I even need to make a case for melted brie. Yum.
Food snobs might hate the idea of baking brie in puff pastry, but this is objectively one of the tastiest brie flavor combinations imaginable. Enveloped in a cocoon of flaky puff pastry, the warm cheese becomes subtly sweeter and creamier, and the puff pastry takes on some of this flavor, as well. When you cut away a slice, the melted brie flows out luxuriously. This combination of melted cheese and warm, flaky puff pastry is infinitely better than any cheese-and-crackers variation.
Instead of wrapping the whole wheel in puff pastry, just cut both the cheese and the dough into bite-size pieces, throw in a few more ingredients of your choice, and pop those babies in the oven. It’s the same idea as baking the whole thing in, but this way, no one has to share (because you know no one wants to).
For a minimalist approach, brie can be just as successfully served with crackers and wine, and goes particularly well with champagne or a dry, fruity rosé.
Pizza is pizza. It’s really difficult to make pizza taste bad, but by substituting brie for your typical mozzarella, a whole new level of richness can be attained (I’m talking those awesome melty cheese strands).