Melted cheese. Hot, bubbling, gloriously rich, fabulously molten melted cheese. From fondue, Irish-style, to Diana Henry’s Tartiflette or the simplest Tuna Melt, anything that involves cheese + heat is a wintertime winner at the cottage, especially with the recent cold snap.
Working on recipes for this week’s cookery demonstration at Bulgaden Castle, I decided to feature some Irish cheese. It was a cold day when I was looking at my Cooleeney brie and the oven was already on. I couldn’t resist. It had to be baked, served under a blanket of bitter-sweet caramel and crunchy pecan nuts – and half-eaten before anyone else got near it.
My demo for the local ladies’ club will take place at Bulgaden Castle, Co Limerick on Thursday 28 November, at 8pm. The theme this time is Salads, Starters, Stuffings and Sweet Things for Christmas.
I promise to share the cheese.
Baked Irish Brie with Sunburnt Red Ale Caramel and Pecans
This is a simple – if rich! – starter for four. Or have it instead as an after-the-kids-go-to-bed feast for two, in front of a roaring fire.
1 individual Cooleney brie, approx 200g
75g dark muscovado sugar
3 tablespoons Eight Degrees Sunburnt Irish Red Ale
50g pecans, toasted
Freshly ground black pepper
Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fanbake.
Put the brie in an ovenproof dish and cut a cross into the top of the rind. Put it into the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is soft and runny in the middle. Remove from the oven.
Meanwhile, put the sugar and ale into a heavy based saucepan and melt the sugar over a medium heat. Simmer for 4-5 minutes, until syrupy. Add the pecans and stir well. Add plenty of coarsely ground black pepper and remove from the heat.
Pull the cut rind back from the top of the warm cheese, pour the caramel sauce over and dive in!
Serve warm with warm crusty bread or cheese crackers, thin slices of pear or apple – and teaspoons.
Serves 4. Or 2.
More cheese, please…
2012: A Storecupboard Special: The Tuna Melt
2008 The easiest Valentine’s Day dinner: Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or
2007 Valentine’s Night – delayed: Simple Irish Cheese Fondue
2006: A whole new world – potato cooking: Tartiflette