triple cheese tower thing
This recipe was inspired by an appetizer that The Inmate and I shared at the Ralph Lauren Restaurant in Chicago. I tried to replicate their baked cheese at home and this is what I came up with, different than the original but delicious nevertheless.
You will need: a package of frozen puff pastry, a wheel of brie cheese, a package of Philadelphia cream cheese, some type of flavoured goat cheese (today I used goat cheese with cranberries and cinnamon), and a nice ripe pear. You will also need for garnish: real maple syrup and chopped almonds, pecans or walnuts (not shown).
On a lightly floured surface roll one-third to one-half of the puff pastry into a round. How much of the pastry you roll will depend on what brand you use and how thick you like your pastry. I like to use a little less and keep it quite thin and delicate for this recipe so the finished baked cheese is easy to break into with a little spreader or knife.
Here is the pastry rolled to about 1/8" thick. Place the brie in the centre of the pastry.
Spread the cream cheese generously on the top of the brie. It is easy to work with when it is at room temperature. Top on as much as you like... I'm a fan of cream cheese. It doesn't have to look smooth or pretty at this stage, just pile it on.
Slice the pear and lay it on top of the cream cheese. I don't even peel the pear because pear skin is very soft and adds nice texture to this dish. Just make sure that pear is ripe.
Then, pile the goat cheese on top of the pear. Again, I have used several types of flavoured cheese when making this. I've tried it with herbed goat cheese and a goat cheese mixed with blue cheese and pears... mmmm that was a good one.
Check this out: using a small paring knife, make cuts around the wheel of brie but pay attention not to cut the pastry right up to the base of the cheese... you'll see why soon.
Start pulling the pastry in sections up and over the tower of cheeses. Now do you see why I didn't cut too low? When I bake this bad-boy I don't want the cheese running out.
Work opposite to bring the sections up and over... not clockwise or anything like that. Opposite. I said opposite.
Eventually you might need to moisten your fingertips with water and touch the tip of the pastry to encourage it to stick. Make sure you pull the pastry quite taut.
I like to give it one last little check to make sure the pastry is smooth and sealed.
Place your creation on a silicone parchment paper (dollar store!) in a baking dish. Place in the refridgerator until baking at 350 degrees for approximately 45 minutes and remove from the oven and let rest for ten minutes before serving with thinly sliced fresh baguette. I like to drizzle the serving platter with maple syrup, more pear slices and chopped nuts for crunch.
posted Monday, February 09, 2009