Read: a cheesy Valentine’s Day in Irish Country Living and Baked Brie with Caramelised Maple Pecans - Baked Irish Brie with Caramelised Maple Pecans and Thyme

Just dive in…

You might have realised, over the years, that I’m a fan of cheesy Valentines:

2012 Something cheesy for Valentine’s Day
2008 The easiest Valentine’s Day dinner: Baked Vacherin Mont d’Or
2007 Valentine’s Night – delayed: Simple Irish Cheese Fondue

To read all about this year’s variation – a Baked Brie with Caramelised Maple Pecans – head over to the Irish Country Living blog.
Link: Food Friday: Valentine’s special

This is a treat that’s not difficult to source – the small inexpensive Cooleeney brie that I use can be picked up in any supermarket, or substitute a similarly sized camembert – so you’ll be able to go to town seeking out some of the gorgeous chocolate from Irish bean-to-bar producers – Wilkie’s Organic Chocolate, Burren Chocolatier or Clonakilty Chocolate are all worth searching for.

Never a fan of going out for a Valentine’s Day dinner – I’ve heard too many stories of silences, arguments and tears from the restaurant manager sister! – I loved the McKenna’s Guide focus on the night through the voices of different restaurateurs.

The Shell’s Café take of the dreaded event, complete with a description of a The Lady and The Tramp-style spaghetti situation, was nearly enough to tempt me.

I said nearly. - Baked Brie with Caramelised Maple Pecans

Baked Irish Brie with Caramelised Pecans
This is the perfect after-the-kids-go-to-bed feast. Serves just two.

1 individual Coolenney brie, approx 200g
1 sprig of thyme
50g pecans, toasted
2 tablespoons maple syrup
Freshly ground black pepper, flakes of sea salt

Preheat oven to 200°C/180°C fan bake.

Put the brie in an ovenproof dish with sides and cut a cross into the top of the rind, pushing the sprig of thyme into the cheese. Place in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes until the cheese is soft and runny in the middle – the length of time depends on the age of the cheese so keep an eye on it. Remove from the oven.

Meanwhile, toast the pecans over a medium heat in a dry frying pan until warm and fragrant. Remove from the heat, pour over the maple syrup and toss together. Season with plenty of black pepper and a pinch of sea salt then remove to a plate and allow to cool.

Pull the cut rind back from the top of the warm cheese, sprinkle with the maple pecans and serve warm with: crunchy apples and slightly underripe pears; cubes of sourdough bread crisped up in the hot oven; dried apricots; thin crackers (crunchy Cranberry and Hazelnut Crackers from Foods of Athenry are a new favourite); gherkins to cut the richness; maybe some thinly sliced Gubbeen chorizo and salami and a good salad.  To drink, try pairing it with a gently hopped red ale or saison (Black Donkey’s Sheep Stealer works especially well) from an Irish microbrewery, some local cider or even a zesty sauvignon blanc.

Another favourite variation here: Baked Irish Brie with Sunburnt Red Ale Caramel and Pecans



Food writer. Broadcaster. Blogger. Author. Married to Eight Degrees Brewing. Member of the Irish Food Writers' Guild, founder of Irish Food Bloggers Association and co-author of Sláinte: The Complete Guide to Irish Craft Beer & Cider (New Island)

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