Years ago my friend Liz hosted a cheese party at her home. If you showed up with a bottle of wine, she gave you a plate of cheese! Okay, so it was actually a little fancier and more involved than that. She had gone to who knows how many cheese shops and gathered who knows how many cheeses and had them set up at different tables, organized by strength. Have you ever been to a cheese tasting? It’s really fun! You start with the mildest cheeses and work your way up. And you JUST EAT THE CHEESE. Leave the bread and crackers at home, this experience is about really tasting the cheeses, appreciating the nuanced differences of each type. It was a delicious, educational and fun night that obviously left an impression on me and changed the way I looked at cheese.
There truly is an art to cheese, one that I am woefully uneducated about but also very much appreciate. Nate lived in Paris for a few years back in the day, so we have a bias towards French cheeses. When I had the chance to work on a post for Président, trying out one of their recipes and sharing it with you, I jumped. We love brie and camembert and love to buy Président when we indulge!
A few years ago, Nate and I went to Paris together. We ate so many wonderful foods, including cheese of course! As I was looking through Paris photos this morning to include in this post, I laughed when I discovered the very first photo I took in Paris was of a small round of Président camembert we bought on our first day in that marvelous city! No wonder that’s the cheese I always buy – we can enjoy a bit of France right here in California!
By the way, les crèmeries are to Paris what Dunkin’ Donuts are to Boston. I couldn’t believe how many cheese shops there were, and they all looked like this. No wonder the French have mastered the art of cheese.
The recipe I am sharing with you today comes from Président’s website, where you can find all kinds of easy gourmet recipes. I chose this particular recipe because it not only sounded delicious but it was downright pretty. This beautiful torte would be perfect to serve at any party, but a cheese party would be especially lovely. It can serve as a nice alternative to the straight-up cheese tasting but still fit into the theme of the evening. Also, even though the torte might look intimidating to make, it actually is quite easy to throw together. You can totally impress without the stress!
Also, this food looked gorgeous at every step of the cooking process. Sorry for all the pictures, but I just couldn’t help myself.
- 3 tablespoons apricot jam (original recipe calls for 2 tablespoons)
- 6 ounces fresh raspberries
- 7 phyllo pastry sheets, thawed according to package directions
- 5 tablespoons butter, melted (original recipe calls for 4 tablespoons)
- 8 oz Président® Brie or Camembert, small whole round of cheese (original recipe calls for 15 oz. Président® Mini-Brie - I liked the proportions with the small round of cheese better)
- Preheat oven to 350º F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. Cut a long strip of parchment paper that is about 4 inches wide, then fold it into thirds to create a sturdy strip. Set aside.
- Melt jam in small pan and gently toss raspberries in jam. Set aside.
- Cut phyllo sheets into a circle shape. To determine the correct size, lay your cheese round on the center of an extra sheet of phyllo and pull the edges up around the cheese to figure out the right size – it should rise about 2-3 inches above the top of the cheese. Use that sheet as a template to cut the 7 sheets you will use for the cheese. Discard the template (it will most likely be falling apart).
- Lay one sheet of phyllo on the prepared baking sheet and brush with butter. Layer another piece of phyllo across bottom piece and brush with butter. Keep layering phyllo and buttering each layer. Once you have opened the phyllo packaging you need to work quickly and handle the sheets as little as possible.
- Remove any packaging from Brie round and place in center of layered and buttered pastry. Gently gather phyllo sheets up and around the cheese round, folding it as you go. Once you have it all folded up around the cheese, wrap your long strip of parchment paper around the entire thing and secure by sticking a toothpick through into the cheese.
- Fill the open top with raspberry mixture and bake for 20-25 minutes, until phyllo is golden. Serve warm.