Everyone has that one food that they imagine they could never give up, and mine is cheese. I love cheese, real cheese, and full fat creamy delicious cheese is one of my favorite guilty food pleasures. If I absolutely had to choose, I’d give up chocolate before cheese, in a heartbeat. I love cheese. And when it’s warm and melty and topped with a tangy fresh cranberry balsamic compote, I might not even share if you aren’t immediate family. They didn’t think I should share either.
I think I first tried brie cheese when I was young because either I read about it in a book and asked my mother to buy it, or she liked it and bought it, or I tried it somewhere else… I’m not really sure. I just know I’ve always been drawn to it. It’s a delicious melting cheese for sandwiches, a great ingredient for an easy appetizer, almost a must on a cheese board, and STILL amazing enough to be baked and served on its own. It’s like the ultimate renaissance cheese.
Currently, this is my favorite way to make baked brie. I’m on a bit of a fresh cranberry kick this year and my favorite way to top baked brie, if topping at all, is with a little acid, a little brightness to balance out the creaminess of the brie. That way, with each bite of cracker or baguette, I get a little starch, a little creaminess, a bit of sour, and a hint of acidity, and sweetness that actually brings out the flavors of the cheese. And in case you’re wondering what a compote is, it’s simply fruit cooked in a bit of syrup. 😉
If you have a small round oven-safe pot or cheese baker, I’d recommend using that to bake your brie. I don’t, and so the brie didn’t quite hold its shape (naturally) and that made transferring it to my final serving plate a little tricky. If you’re particular about presentation, like me, you’ll look for a small round baker if you don’t have one already.
You can make up the fresh cranberry balsamic compote on the stove top up to three days in advance and store in the refrigerator until you plan to bake your brie. You won’t use all of the sauce on the brie, which is great because the compote is delicious on its own and makes a great compliment to the main meal. I would serve the brie as an appetizer before the Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner and then set the remaining balsamic cranberry sauce out alongside your classic cranberry sauce.
If you have a crowd of cheese-lovers, you may want to bake two… our little family devoured over half of this brie in a single sitting. Enjoy!
- 2 cups fresh whole cranberries, washed
- ½ c water
- ¾ c granulated sugar
- ⅓ c good quality balsamic vinegar
- 1 round of brie (mine was about 14 ounces)
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- crackers or sliced and toasted baguette bread for serving
- Make the cranberry compote by simmering the fresh cranberries, water, and sugar in a small pot over medium heat. Allow to simmer 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the cranberries pop and the sugar has dissolved.
- Add the balsamic vinegar and simmer an additional 5 minutes, stirring frequently. Remove from the heat and transfer to another container. Use immediately or store in the refrigerator until ready to use.
- Preheat your oven to 350 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper or brush the inside of your small round baker with oil.
- Using a sharp knife, cut just the very top rind of the wheel of cheese. Place the wheel cut side up on your baking sheet. Top with about ⅓-1/2 cup of the cranberry balsamic sauce and bake 12-15 minutes until brie is soft and melted.
- Serve immediately with crackers or a sliced baguette and additional cranberry balsamic sauce if desired.