When I saw a picture of these on Pinterest, I knew I had to try them. This completely blended my love of Monte Cristos with fond memories of my three-week vacation to England in 2011. Bacon and brie grilled sandwiches are very popular across the Pond (at least in many of the cafes I visited around Yorkshire). Add puff pastry and you essentially get the offspring of a bacon and brie sandwich that mates with a pasty.
Baked Brie Bites
2 sheets puff pastry, thawed but still cold
1/2 wedge of mild brie, chilled
Slices of deli ham or Canadian bacon, cut into small pieces
1 large egg, beaten
1 tbsp milk
Coarsely ground sea salt
1. Preheat oven to 375.
2. Cut puff pastry into thirds along the creases. Cut each panel into four pieces (2 ¼ inches x 3 inches). Cut each rectangle in half for a total of 24 rectangles that will create 12 rectangle pockets.
3. Combine beaten egg and milk. Brush 12 of the small rectangles with egg wash. Place a small sliver of brie (including rind) on top of the egg wash. Top with several mini slices of ham.
4. Take another square of puff pastry and gently press between your fingers to enlarge slightly. Place on top of cheese and ham. Crimp edges together with a fork so that the cheese and ham are completely sealed.
5. Place brie bites on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Brush with egg wash and sprinkle with sea salt. Bake 12 to 14 minutes or until golden brown.
6. Cool slightly before serving. Serve warm.
Substitution Suggestions: The original recipe, taken from joythebaker.com, called for a ½ tsp of cherry jam instead of ham. I preferred ham and then dipped the bites into raspberry jam as I ate them. You could also sprinkle it with powdered sugar instead of salt for a Monte Cristo-type treat.
I don’t particularly like brie rind (flavor or texture), but I used a mild brie with a thin rind and it all melted into a pleasant texture. And, because brie isn’t necessarily a cheap cheese, it goes further.
Lessons Learned: It took a while for the pastry to brown. Also, don’t prep this near the oven as the oven preheats. The puff pastry needs to stay as cold as possible (without being frozen). So, work fast.