I have an unhealthy relationship with baked Brie. I cannot resist its gorgeous melted siren song, usually eating far more than my fair share of a dish that is, in theory, put out as a party snack for everyone to enjoy. Of course the obvious solution is just to bake up more of it.
So whenever I make baked Brie, I go straight for the large hubcap-size rounds. They’re harder to find than little six-inch wheels, but they make a more impressive presentation, and you rarely have to worry about running out (though you may need an extra set of hands to help you maneuver the bigger cheese).
While most baked Bries are on the sweet side, with layers of jam or chutney under the crust, here I go savory with anchovies, garlic, and roasted bell peppers.
A drizzle of hot or regular honey adds complexity without making it cloying, and a pinch of lemon zest brightens things up. Serve this straight from the oven when it’s at its runniest, with crisp crackers or crusty bread for crunch.
SERVES 10 TO 12
¼ cup chopped roasted red bell pepper (from a jar or homemade; see sidebar)
3 oil-packed anchovy fillets, minced
1 garlic clove, finely grated or minced
¾ teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 pound phyllo dough, thawed if frozen
10 tablespoons (1¼ sticks) unsalted butter, melted
1 large (about 26 ounces) wheel of Brie
Hot honey (see note) or regular honey, for serving
Crackers and/or sliced bread, for serving
Heat the oven to 425°F.
In a small bowl, stir together the roasted bell pepper, anchovies, garlic, and lemon zest. Set aside.
On a clean work surface, lay out the phyllo dough and cover it with a barely damp kitchen towel to keep it from drying out. Take 2 phyllo sheets and lay them in an 11 × 17-inch rimmed baking sheet. Brush the top sheet generously with melted butter, then lay another 2 phyllo sheets on top the opposite way, so they cross in the center and are perpendicular to the first two (like making a plus sign). Brush the top sheet with butter. Repeat the layers, reserving 4 sheets of phyllo.
Using a long sharp kitchen knife, halve the Brie horizontally and lay one half, cut-side up, in the center of the phyllo (you will probably need another set of hands to help lift off the top layer of cheese). Then spread the red pepper mixture all over the top. Cover with the other half of Brie, cut-side down, and then fold the phyllo pieces up around the Brie. There will be a space in the center on top where the Brie is uncovered, and that’s okay.
Lightly crumple one of the remaining sheets of phyllo and place it on top of the phyllo/Brie package to cover up that space. Drizzle a little butter on top, then repeat with the remaining phyllo sheets, scattering them over the top of the pastry and drizzling a little butter each time. It may look messy but will bake up into gorgeous golden waves of pastry, so fear not.
Bake until the phyllo is golden, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove it from the oven and let it rest for about 15 minutes before drizzling it with the hot honey. Slice (it will be runny) and serve with crackers or bread, and with more hot honey as needed.
If you don’t have hot honey but want the spice here, you can make your own by stirring a pinch or two of cayenne into mild honey, such as clover or orange blossom.
How to Roast Bell Peppers
Over an open flame on your stovetop, on your grill, or under the broiler, roast the bell peppers, turning them often, until the skins are black and blistered all over, 10 to 15 minutes. Transfer the peppers to a heatproof bowl, cover it with a plate, and let them sit for 15 minutes to steam and cool. Using paper towels or your fingers, rub off the skins. Peppers can be roasted up to 2 days in advance and stored, with any juices, in the refrigerator.