Brie is a creamy, luxuriously indulgent cheese that can be enjoyed in a variety of ways. I like it smooth and melty, so I gently bake it until it's silken. I find this to be the way to uncover the superior qualities of the Brie. It's not the Cheez Whiz of my youth.
The first thing I look for when choosing Brie is to find a slice that is a universally buttery golden color. If there are specks of white or an uneven color, that means the Brie isn't ripe. If I get a wheel and can't check the ripeness, it's simple to let it rest on the kitchen counter for a few days to continue ripening. I like to take the white rind off the tops and sides before cooking since it's easier to do it before it's melted. I just don't like the taste or texture of the rind. I preheat the oven to 290 degrees and transfer the cheese to a glass casserole bowl and bake it until it's starting to ooze. About 15 minutes for a small wheel. When it has reached the desired texture I take out the bowl and put it in a decorative holder that has a candle underneath. The heat of the candle allows the Brie to stay soft, warm and gooey for much longer. Then comes my favorite part of making Brie - the creative "how to finish it" part. This is where Brie is superior to other other cheeses. It's the creamy melt-in-your-mouth texture and its chameleon-like versatility. Pecans stirred in creates a divine contrast between the butter-rich cheese and salty crunch of the nuts. In addition to nuts, Brie is superb topped with a good quality fruit spread. Fig jam tops the list. It's elegant in appearance as well.
The absolute most delicious way to serve Brie is with minced garlic stirred in. I have had people park themselves for an entire party at the Brie while showing increasing signs of addiction to the smooth garlicky mix. I put a few spoons in the cheese for guests to load onto a plate or to dollop onto a water cracker. I do like a simple cracker since the Brie needs nothing special to complete its taste after the garlic, nuts or fruit spread have been added. Be prepared for an onslaught of Brie with garlic admirers to request "how-to" tips. Bon appetite!