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Apricot, Walnut & Balsamic Baked Brie

December is really the month for baked brie, isn’t it? The comfort factor that comes with an oozy wheel of cheese, served to a crowd armed with crackers and fresh crusty bread, is huge. Nothing elicits a more enthusiastic response (or few things, anyway), than a baked brie, straight from the oven. Particularly when topped with something delicious, too – this wheel is loaded with a combination of sweet apricot jam, tangy balsamic vinegar, chopped fresh rosemary and crunchy walnuts. Assemble it beforehand if you like, then bring it with you and slide it into the oven to heat through and turn bubbly once you arrive at the party. Or come home from sledding.

If the party is at your house, slide it into the oven at around the time you expect guests to arrive – they’ll walk in the door to a heavenly smell and ready-to-go nibble.

The photo above is of a small wheel of brie; if you like, buy an assortment of 3 smaller wheels (a goat brie or Camembert, for example) and divide the topping between them.

Apricot, Walnut & Balsamic Baked Brie

1 medium-large wheel of brie (or a few small wheels)
1 cup walnut halves
1/2 cup apricot preserves
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
1 Tbsp. chopped fresh rosemary

Preheat the oven to 350F. In a pie plate, toast the walnut halves for 5-8 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Remove from the oven and roughly chop them; set aside.

Slice a thin slice of rind off the top of the wheel of brie and discard the rind. Set the brie into the pie plate (or similar baking dish). In a medium bowl, stir together the chopped walnuts, apricot preserves, balsamic vinegar and rosemary. Pile on top of the brie and bake for 8-10 minutes, until bubbly. Serve immediately, surrounded with crackers, pear slices and/or sliced baguette. Serves lots.

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