Cheater Cheese Fondue made a wheel of baked brie is a great stand-in when you’re in the mood for hot, melty cheese fondue but not down with getting out fondue gear, shredding the cheese, cubing the bread, and slowly stirring figure 8’s. (Here’s how to make cheese fondue at home if you need some tips).
At half the amount of cheese of a classic Swiss fondue recipe, a small eight-ounce wheel of brie makes a generous very easy two-person or light four-person appetizer that’s a bit of a splurge, sure, but not a sinker. If you’ve ever hovered over the sterno-fired pot of liquid gold you know it’s hard put down the long fork.
All you do is slice off the top rind of the cheese and place it in a small stoneware bowl or small casserole with a cover and bake it in a hot oven until soft and runny. Notice we didn’t add anything sweet!
When you see the words “baked brie” put aside all assumptions of the overwrought appetizer adorned with puff pastry, preserves, honey, trail mix, chutney, brown sugar, caramel, pecans, you name it, all starters that have filled up many a hungry grazer. Without a sweet cover-up, the warm runny cheese nicely mimics the great taste and texture of a classic Swiss fondue when served simply with crusty bread or good crackers, the tart counterpoint of sour cornichons, and that sharp, cleansing taste of Kirschwasser (unsweet cherry brandy). Fresh radishes add a nice crunch and color.
Most liquor stores will carry the Hiram Walker brand of Kirschwasser ($18), but if you look around you can find higher quality brands like Clear Creek made in Oregon ($25). If you’re really lucky you’ll run across a fancy brand from Germany ($50), though we haven’t yet. Think of it like the difference between Pepe Lopez Tequila and, say, a 100% agave tequila. Nothing wrong with Pepe Lopez with a mixer, but when enjoying neat the better brand is the better choice.
Finally, don’t let the lack of the stoneware pot deter you from cheater fondue. Place the wheel with top rind removed on a cookie sheet or even a sheet of foil into the oven. The appetizer is just more beautifully presented in a nice hot bowl.
- 1 8-oz wheel of Brie cheese
- Kirschwasser cherry brandy
- Good crackers
- Fresh radishes
Preheat the oven to 375F.
Unwrap the brie wheel and with a knife carefully slice off the top rind. Place the wheel inside the stoneware and cover.
Bake the brie until bubbly and hot throughout, about 10-15 minutes. Serve with shots of Kirschwasser, cornichons, crackers, and radishes.