Baked brie is crusted in Dukkah then topped with chopped nuts and dried fruit.
It’s December and, ready or not, I’m taking a deep breath and diving head-first into all things holiday.
There will be decorations, gifts, cards and of course food. The party nibbles, the wintry soul-warming dinners, the sweets and treats and steaming cups of cocoa. But first there’s this baked brie to talk about.
This familiar, comforting appetizer is lifted up from the expected with an exotic spice and nut mixture.
A whole round of brie is baked to molten perfection and topped with a colorful handful of chopped nuts and dried fruit, but it’s the Dukkah crust that gets me excited. It’s like your favorite comfort food took a trip to the Middle East and returned a little spicier and more complex.
Travel to Eygpt and you’ll find the origins of Dukkah, a spice and nut blend that is pounded together after being toasted. Traditionally eaten by dipping bread into olive oil and then into the spice mixture. It goes quite well, it turns out, with a good goat milk brie cheese. (I tend to prefer goat milk brie for this recipe because it can be easier to digest than cow’s milk).
The toasted nuts, seeds and spices have a lovely warmth to them that marries well with the creamy cheese, the crumbly texture adding a welcome crunch in contrast to the softness of the melted cheese. It’s a hit of flavor that makes your taste buds sing.
Spices have effect — they make your mouth tingle — and while an integral part of cooking and baking all year round, they really shine during the holidays.
With their bold flavors and hot-sweet nuances, spices certainly help to make meals memorable and no one knows this better than spice giant McCormick. Every year for over a decade McCormick has released their Flavor Forecast which showcases top culinary trends to watch over the coming years.
This year’s round up of global proportions aims to predict the flavor trends that will dominate what we eat when we dine out and at home for the next three to five years, according to McCormick’s Chef Kevan Vetter. The report takes a full year and a tremendous culinary team to compile and I had the opportunity to get a sneak peek at the findings for 2013 and chat with Chef Vetter about the trends for the New Year. According to him this next year will be all about: sumptuous flavors that escape the everyday, handcrafted and homemade touches, explosive flavors for empowered eating, exploring underutilized ingredients with a “waste nothing” mentality, and non-traditional, adventuresome uses of ethnic spices.
What do you think of the flavor trends for 2013?
Serves Serves 8
A whole round of brie is crusted with Dukkah and baked to molten perfection and then topped with a colorful handful of chopped nuts and dried fruit.
30 minPrep Time
10 minCook Time
- 1 large 8 oz or two small 4 oz ripe Goat Milk Brie (The cheese should give slightly to pressure in the center)
- 1-2 Tablespoons wildflower honey (plus extra for serving)
- ½ Dukkah spice mix blend (recipe follows)
- 2 Tablespoons dried unsweetened cherries
- 2 Tablespoons chopped pistachios
- 1 Tablespoons of brandy for soaking dried cherries (or use water or juice instead)
- Gluten free crackers and apple slices for serving
- 28 grams / 1/4 cup hazelnuts
- 28 grams / 1/4 cup shelled roasted pistachios (unsalted)
- 1 Tablespoon McCormick® Sesame Seed
- 1 Tablespoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Coriander Seed
- 1 Tablespoon McCormick® Cumin Seed
- 1 teaspoon McCormick® Gourmet Collection Roasted Saigon Cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon black peppercorns
- 1 teaspoon flaky sea salt
- Preheat oven to 350°
- Spread the hazelnuts over a baking tray and bake for 3-5 minutes or until toasted. Rub the hazelnuts in between a tea towel to remove as much of the skins as possible.
- Place the toasted hazelnuts in the bowl of a food processor along with the pistachios and process until very coarsely chopped. Set aside.
- Place the sesame seeds and all the spices in frying pan over medium heat, and cook, stirring frequently, for 1-2 minutes or until fragrant. Let cool completely.
- Pulse the toasted spices in the food processor with the chopped nuts and pulse until finely ground and crumbly. (Do not allow mixture to become a paste.)
- Store in an airtight jar in a cool, dry place until needed.
- Raise oven to 375°
- Rehydrate the dried cherries in the brandy or warm water until soft (at least 20 minutes).
- In the meantime prepare the cheese.
- Trim rind from top of Brie, leaving a small border around.
- Brush the cheese on all sides with honey.
- Spread dukkah spice mix evenly on the bottom of a shallow dish or pie plate. Place cheese top side down into the spice mix and press firmly. Flip and press gently to the bottom and sides as well.
- Place in a shallow ramekin or oven proof serving dish and bake until warm (about 10 minutes).
- Top with the drained soaked cherries and chopped pistachios, drizzle with extra honey and serve warm with crackers and sliced apples. (Toss apple slices in lemon juice to prevent browning)
- Refrigerate leftovers; reheat before serving.
Gluten free, Grain free, Vegetarian
Disclaimer: I was invited by McCormick to interview Chef Vetter and share the 2013 Flavor Forecast.