Holiday baked Brie with liqueur-accented cranberry compote, walnuts and thyme (here’s the recipe from Liren Baker of Kitchen Confidante).  Baked Brie with olives, recipe below (photo courtesy DeLallo).  Whatever bubbly you serve, Baked Brie is a delicious companion (photo of sparkling rosé from Santa Margherita).  Pitted, chopped olives make an already easy recipe a breeze (photo courtesy DeLallo).  For a red accent, use pimiento strips (photo courtesy Conservas Martinez)…  or or chopped peppadews (photo Biozinc | Wikipedia).
Some foods pair better with champagne and other sparkling wines, and are our New Year’s Eve go-to foods. Caviar, pâté, seafood and smoked salmon are the luxury foods are simple made to be enjoyed with bubbly (more).
And then there’s cheese.
Double- and triple-creme cheeses are sumptuous with sparkling wines:
Brie and Camembert are popular double-crèmes (here’s the difference between Brie and Camembert).
Also consider a Brie fondue.
Triple-crèmes like Brillat-Savarin, Explorateur and St. André are even richer and creamier than double-crèmes.
Mild Cheddars and nutty Goudas pair with toasty, nutty Champagnes (among sparkling wines, Champagne is unique in its toasty, nutty qualities).
Served with slices of fresh baguette or specialty crackers, these are the cheeses to usher in the new year.
WANT MORE PANACHE?
Baked Brie with holiday panache is impressive, yet so easy to make. You can top it with something sweet or savory; for example:
Cranberry Baked Brie
Cranberry-Pomegranate Holiday Brie
Baked Brie With Kiwi Compote
You can also mix nuts and honey as a topping, or honey and a dried fruit medley of blueberries, cherries, cranberries, raisins and sultanas.
Or use a festive jam or preserves like cherry and fig, or chutney (you can also mix in a bit of liqueur).
Leftover cranberry sauce or relish also works. Add a splash of balsamic vinegar for a tangy counterpoint.
Herbs and honey: Spread on the honey and sprinkle with herbs, and even a few edible flowers. We like lavender and thyme.
Marinate canned or frozen cherries in a balsamic reduction, wine or a liqueur, such as Grand Marnier or kirsch.
Spread the Brie with apple or pumpkin butter and top with salted nuts, for a sweet-and-salty effect.
MORE SWEET TOPPINGS
Top with candied walnuts or pecans, a praline topping or dulce de leche and chopped nuts.
Popular and colorful: sliced fresh strawberries marinated in Grand Marnier or other liqueur.
Ditto, honey and fresh berries.
Yum: diced apples and/or pears mixed into salted caramel.
FOR “DESSERT BRIE”
Next up: savory toppings for Baked Brie.
RECIPE: BAKED BRIE WITH OLIVES
DeLallo created this recipe using their Olives Jubilee, a colorful medley of Kalamata, Niçoise-style, Picholine and plump green olives in an herb marinade. Pitted, chopped, marinated: All you need to do is drain and spoon the olives over the cheese.
Instead of adding tart, uncooked cranberries—which look great but aren’t so palatable—we chopped a small jar fire-roasted red pepper strips (pimiento, piquillo, etc.).
You can also chop peppadews or grape/cherry tomatoes.
For more color and flavor, we also tossed in some pink and green peppercorns we had at hand—mild, not spicy like black peppercorns—and some shredded basil.
This recipe is for a small “baby” Brie; but if you’re having a large crowd, you can buy an entire 17-inch wheel (and adjust the amount of toppings accordingly).
1 baby Brie (8 ounces)
1/4 cup chopped olives
1/4 cup chopped pecans, pistachios or walnuts
1/4 cup chopped fresh cranberries or substitute
2 tablespoons honey
Optional: capers, minced fresh basil or thyme
Bread, crackers, toasts
1. PREHEAT the oven to 350°F. Place the Brie on a nonstick baking sheet. Bake until softened, about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, onto a serving plate.
2. TOP with olives, nuts and cranberries/peppers. Drizzle with honey and serve with bread/crackers and cheese spreaders.
Bacon jam (recipe).
Caramelized onions (recipe—use a small dice) and chopped thyme.
Curried diced vegetables* with optional chopped bacon.
Greens: baby arugula, baby spinach and watercress wilted in garlic oil.
Ham and cheese: Spread grainy mustard or Dijon and top with minced ham and optional chopped herbs.
Olive-oil marinated sundried tomatoes, capers, garlic and parsley: a classic.
Pesto; consider half green pesto, half red pesto.
Sautéed wild mushrooms and thyme.
MORE SAVORY BRIE TOPPINGS
We deliberately left out jalapeño and other “heat” because Brie has a subtle flavor; but you can add a dash of cayenne or red pepper flakes if you like.
*Raw bell peppers, carrots, celery, fennel, onions, etc.