Chile Ancho and Honey-Baked Brie with Fresh Figs and Pumpkin Seeds
by Victoria Challancin
My apologies to all my readers who have emailed me after a long absence from my blog to ask if all is well. All is well and I appreciate your concern. I have simply been on a break from basically all but the basics on the internet. Now I have returned! But I do thank you. It is always nice to know you are missed!
Thanksgiving, my favorite holiday, was simple this year. Traditional, yet simple. When I searched for something different to prepare as an appetizer for pre-dinner drinks for a mainly Mexican and a Swedish group of friends and family, I found a couple of recipes for a baked brie that particularly appealed. I read several of them and then combined them into something that worked for me (see here for the original recipe of the main recipe I used). The results? A fantastic appetizer that my son said he could just eat with a spoon and forget the rest of the meal.
I served this at a traditional American Thanksgiving dinner, but it would work beautifully at Christmas--or any time of year when fresh figs can be found! Simple, fast, delicious--what more do we busy cooks need?
A cross-hatched brie set into a baking dish
For those of you who don't know dried chile ancho, you are in for a treat. Ancho chiles are simply poblano chiles that have ripened and then dried. They are a mild chile with a deep, rich flavor, which has hints of date and dried-tomato sweetness. Personally, I consider this chile, in both its fresh and dried forms, to be a national treasure of Mexico! Ground chile ancho powder is available in Mexican groceries, but failing that, simply toast a dried ancho chile and then grind it in a spice grinder. Look for unbroken, pliable chiles of a deep red mahogany color.
The brie is covered with an ancho-chile infused honey, topped with fig halves, and sprinkled with fresh thyme leaves and black pepper
In the oven
Still in the oven after baking
The final dish
Recipe: Chile Ancho and Honey-Baked Brie with Fresh Figs and Pumpkin Seeds
(Recipe by Victoria Challancin, inspired by this)
1 wheel of Brie (I used a 12-oz piece)
1/2 cup honey
1 tablespoons of ground chile ancho
6 to 8 fresh figs, cut in half
Several sprigs of thyme, leaves only
1/2 cup hulled pumpkin seeds
1 tablespoon butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Slightly score the brie in a crosshatch patter, without cutting too deeply (1/2 inch is sufficient--or less). Place in a baking dish and set aside.
Heat the honey in a small saucepan. Add the ground chile ancho, stirring to combine.
Pour the honey over the cheese, separating the scored areas with the tip of a blunt knife so that the honey can penetrate.
Scatter the fig halves over the cheese. Sprinkle with thyme leaves and a few grinds of black pepper.
Top with aluminum foil, sealing the edges. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, melt butter in a small skillet. Add pumpkin seeds and cook until seeds begin to pop, about 2 to 3 minutes.
To serve, scatter the pumpkin seeds on top of the hot brie. Serve with crostini or crackers of choice.
Note: I had intended to take this out of the oven while the cheese still held its round shape. Other parts of the dinner got in my way and I accidentally allowed it to completely melt. I don't think anyone noticed!
Parting Shot: Moroccan Horn Candlesticks
©Victoria Challancin. All Rights Reserved.
Flavors of the Sun Cooking School
San Miguel de Allende, Mexico