Lately, my Facebook feed has been decorated with quite a few people posting and reposting images of Nordstrom signs that explain why the store won’t be putting up holiday decorations until after Thanksgiving. Having had a previous life in retail (I worked at Express in college.) I’m well aware of the creep that can happen in the retail space. Back to School in July, Halloween in September, it can be difficult to remember what time of year it is.
But when it comes to Christmas, I will admit my attitude is generally the earlier the better. I’ll admit I’ve already tapped my holiday station on Pandora on more than one occasion and those early holiday decorations in malls and along city streets, they make me smile. What can I say, I’m a sucker for it all.
One aspect of my early bird holiday mentality that I especially love is menu and recipe planning for my family’s Christmas Eve celebration. For as long as I can remember we’ve always celebrated by doing a spread of various appetizers. We have a few classics that generally make the rotation, spinach dip made with Knorr Mix among them, but generally we switch things up. So in the weeks that follow I generally keep an eye out for what I might make.
These Brie & Apple Tartlets are a strong contender to make the list. As I mentioned in my Brie review they are so addictive that I found myself making them twice in one week. Even better, they are relatively simple to make.
I start by cutting rounds out of puff pastry. If you’re feeling ambitious, you could make your own, but my homemade versions have never rivaled store bought. I like to go for an all-butter version because I think the flavor is much, much better than those made with hydrogenated oils. Trader Joe’s store brand is generally my preferred brand, though I know people who rave about Darfour.
I top the puff pastry with cubes of Brie and apples sauteed simply with butter, cinnamon, brown sugar, and a bit of salt to taste. Top with some chopped toasted nuts and you have an indulgent appetizer that’s the perfect match of sweet and savory and holiday-ready. However, you don’t have to wait for the holidays to enjoy these. They’re perfect for any occasion, like celebrating making it through Monday.
Adapted from azcentral.com
Yields about 20 mini tartlets
-1 sheet puff pastry, thawed, room temperature
-1/2 pound Brie, rind removed, cut into 1/2 inch cubes (Brie can be difficult to slice so I recommend putting it in the freezer for 15-30 minutes before cutting to allow it to firm up a bit.)
-2 tbsp butter
-2 cooking apples (I used Fuji), peeled, cored and chopped into a small dice
-1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
-2 tablespoons brown sugar
-1/2 cup toasted pecans, coarsely chopped
Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.
Unfold pastry sheet on lightly floured surface. Roll into 15″ x 12″ rectangle. Using a small cookie cutter or the rim of a small juice glass, cut into circles that are between 2 1/2 inches to 3 inches in diameter. (Or cut into 20 even squares with a knife.) Press into bottoms of mini muffin-pan cups. Partially bake for about 5 minutes or until the pastry is just starting to puff up, but not quite golden.
In a large sauté pan, heat butter over medium heat. When melted, and foam has subsided, add apples and cook until caramelized. Stir in the cinnamon and brown sugar and season lightly with salt to taste.
Place one cube of Brie into each muffin cup. Portion apples over Brie.
Place back in the oven and bake until until pastry is golden and Brie is melted, about 15 minutes. Remove, sprinkle evenly with the pecans, and serve immediately.