I’m pretty sure cheese is in the top three most fun and delicious ingredients to experiment with. It’s difficult to go wrong, as long as you find the right cheese(s).
And I don’t think there are enough sweet cheese recipes out there. Yes, I know there’s like, a bazillion cheesecake recipes. I just don’t really care about cheesecake. Over. It. It’s the cream cheese. Anything but cream cheese, please. Mascarpone is nice. It’s typically used in tiramisu, and sometimes cannoli. It’s super mild and has a hint of sweetness. Then I had the idea to combine it with brie. I love brie… Even though I’m sick of restaurants serving it all drenched in honey, making it overly sweet. Feels like they’re taking away from the loveliness that is rich, creamy, classy brie. So I decided my little experiment would not be so cloyingly sweet. Besides, we’ve got plenty of sugar to deal with this week, right?
Since I was experimenting, and cheese is expensive, I only made seven of these. I doubled my original measurements, so you should get 14-16 mini tarts.
Mascarpone & Brie Mini Tarts
2 cups hazelnuts (almonds or pecans will work nicely here too)
agave syrup, enough to make a malleable crust with the nuts
an 8-oz container of mascarpone
6-8 oz brie
about 1/2 cup raw honey (depending on how sweet you’d like it. You want a thick, spreadable honey for this. You could probably use powdered sugar instead if you want)
fruit topping (fresh berries, figs or any kind of preserves, jam, etc.)
1) Preheat the oven to 350°F. Line a muffin pan with those cupcake paper thangs. To make the crust, finely grind the hazelnuts in a food processor. Add agave until the mix becomes malleable.
2) Lightly wet your hands and press the mix into the cupcake liners, first on the bottom, and then a little up the sides. Bake 8-10 minutes, or until they just start to brown a bit. Allow them to cool.
3) Remove the rind from the brie. If you’re like me, you eat it. Mmmm, mold. In a large bowl, beat the brie with an electric mixer to knock the shape out of it. Add the mascarpone. Then the honey. Go gradually until you achieve the sweetness that is right for you. If you use powdered sugar, I suggest sifting it into the cheese.
I actually just mixed it all at once, before realizing that beating the brie first would be better for texture. Ah well, came out nice anyway.
4) Spoon the cheese into the crusts. Refrigerate for several hours or overnight. Top with the fruit. In this particular case, cranberry jam…
I was reeeally satisfied with this. For one, it’s cheese. Duh. And a nice combination at that. Second, the particular honey I used imparts a sophisticated floral taste and aroma. Keep that in mind when deciding which honey to use, as they all have different profiles. Third, the crust was successful and kept intact. If you wanted to make a single large tart, I would suggest making sure the layer of cheese is not too thick, to prevent it from gooping out once you start cutting it. Haha… cutting the cheese…