Orange Blossom Honey + Pistachio Baked Brie Cheese Board

Merry Christmas! Or Happy Holidays... or Happy New Year?

I really don't know how it's already the new year. Even more, how it's already 2016! I know I kind of just skipped right over Christmas, and I had the most perfect Christmas recipe to post, but I hadn't perfected it yet. So just a little heads up, there may or may not be a take on a caprese salad in the near future...

Anyways, New Year's Eve is always a huge deal in the Azar house. My mom is known for printing out a full-on-5 course menu and sitting down to savor each course with her family.
Okay, so we've only done that twice in my lifetime, but it still feels like somewhat of a tradition.

 It's already January 3rd but better late than never, right?
We cooked for 3 hours straight to prepare this New Year's Eve menu for the 5 of my family, and 2 of my brothers' friends.
My oldest brother texted his friend a picture of the menu beforehand and he actually walked in our house, thinking he was the first to arrive to some huge elegant gathering, only to find out he was the makeup of the guest list.

This year, I was in charge of the appetizer, which was so easy and quick to whip up, and the dessert, which I'll get into in another post.

I really wanted to create a cheese board for the appetizer, and something I wanted to do even more was finally try out baked brie. I've seen so many variations on it, and with brie being my favorite cheese, there couldn't have been a better chance to try it out. I am so glad I did, too.

Sweet and citrusy orange honey and salty crunchy pistachios melded into a sticky caramelized topping, warm gooey brie, crunchy toast, salty crispy prosciutto wrapped champagne infused figs, fig balsamic reduction, and a spicy ginger blackberry compote.... Mmmmm.

There are a lot of flavors going on all at once, but with the right proportions, it's divine.

New Year's Eve Cheese Board

-Orange Blossom Honey + Pistachio Baked Brie
-Sage Rubbed Crostini
-Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Balsamic Glaze
-Blackberry Ginger & Black Pepper Compote

I had so much fun making this board! I mean, in the 20 minutes I was cooking it... Seriously. So easy.

Since figs aren't in season, I was unable to get any fresh for the dish. If you have fresh figs, you should totally use them! Having the dried ones on hand worked out for the better though, because I rehydrated them in champagne. It added a whole other level of flavor and not to mention was a perfect addition for New Year's Eve!

Orange & Pistachio Baked Brie + Sage Crostini
(last thing to prepare before serving)

  • 8 oz. brie round
  • 2/3 cup lightly toasted salted pistachios- roughly chopped
  • 1/4 cup orange blossom honey*
  • 1 tsp. coarse sea salt
  • French Baguette- thinly sliced into angled pieces (about 1/2 in. thick)
  • Olive oil
  • 2 tsp. rubbed sage
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 3 fresh sage sprigs
Pre-heat oven to 425º.
Brush baguette slices with olive oil on each side and rub dried sage & pepper mixture on each side. Broil for 4-5 minutes, flip each piece, and then broil for another 2-3 minutes or until golden brown and crunchy on each side.

Pre-heat oven to 350º.
Bake brie round on a baking sheet for 8 minutes.
Melt the honey in a sauce pan, add crushed pistachios and mix until combined. Let cook on low while brie is cooking. Top brie with pistachio mixture, and bake again for another 4 minutes. Take out, sprinkle with salt, and serve immediately. Cut into to let brie ooze out.

*If you can't find orange blossom honey, add 1 tsp. orange zest and 1 tbs. orange juice to regular honey.

Blackberry Ginger Compote
  •  2- 6 oz. cartons fresh blackberries 
  • 1 tsp. fresh grated ginger
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 cup sugar- (can sub 3 tbs. honey also)
  • 1 lemon- juice 
  • 1/2 lemon- zest
  • 1 tsp. dried orange peel (or 1/2 orange zest)
  • pinch of salt
Place all ingredients in a sauce pan, stir over medium heat until blackberries are broken down. Bring to a boil for 5 minutes, turn to a simmer until thickened. Leave chunky. Refrigerate until completely cool before serving.

Prosciutto Wrapped Figs with Balsamic Glaze
  • 10 fresh or dried figs- sliced in half
  • 1/2 cup champagne*** only for dried figs
  • 1/4 cup water*** only for dried figs
  • 10 slices prosciutto
  • 20 toothpicks
Pre-heat oven to 425º.
Allow dried figs to soak in water and champagne for at least 10-15 minutes. Soak toothpicks in champagne mixture after removing figs. Slice each piece of prosciutto in half. Wrap a fig halve with a prosciutto slice halve to cover completely. Stick a toothpick in each to hold it together. Bake for about  8 minutes or until crispy. 
While figs are baking, bring 1/3 cup black mission fig or regular balsamic vinegar to a boil for 3 minutes and then to a simmer to reduce and thicken. 
Drizzle figs with balsamic reduction.

I recommend a heavy layer of brie on each crostini, pistachios, and a drizzle of the blackberry jam, or slice the figs with brie and a drizzle of balsamic. Sprinkle any variation with chopped fresh sage. 
So. Dang. Good.
The most important part------ load on the brie!!!

                                                                                                                             -Cecilia A.


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