It’s Ash Wednesday, a mournful first footfall along a path that winds through fasting, repentance, and even death on its way to climactic, exuberant rebirth. Some Baptist churches observe Lent, the season of sacrifice that begins today, but others — including my own — don’t. I started observing it personally in college, though, because I appreciated the symbolism: the 40ish days of Lent recognize the 40 days of fasting and prayer Jesus endured in the wilderness in preparation for laying down His life as a sacrifice for our sins.

During Lent, people choose something to give up in recognition of Christ’s self-denial. The first year I participated, I gave up sweets. Perhaps that seems harsh considering I now write a baking blog dominated by decadent desserts, but I actually thought I was starting off easy. I wasn’t a huge fan of desserts at the time. I sometimes joke that my 40-day abstinence must have created a continuously combusting passion for cake in the depths of my soul, because afterwards, I was ravenous for sugar (and have been ever since).

In subsequent years I would give up meat (easy), computer usage (a little harder), and caffeine (ridiculously difficult).

Those 40 days without soda almost did me in. I know it’s absurd — Christ gave up everything and I had trouble giving up a beverage — but I really did struggle. For some reason, drinking lots of water makes me feel parched instead of hydrated. I was thirsty all the time, my throat was sore, my lips were dry, and yet — to put it delicately — I still needed more bathroom breaks than a teacher could possibly squeeze into the day. The worst part, though, was how absolutely exhausted I was all the time. Apparently I run mostly on caffeine.

This year I’m giving up a few different things. I’ve developed something of a chain-drinking problem with Diet Sunkist at school, so I’m abstaining from that entirely. I’m also giving up time on the internet: I’ve given myself just a sliver of time to check Facebook and Pinterest and my Google Reader each evening.

It’s just a couple of small things — enough to create a background discomfort that reminds me that my freedom came at a steep cost.

This Brie En Croute with Figs & Rosemary might be better suited to Fat Tuesday (emphasis on the “fat”) than Ash Wednesday, but it’s not Sunkist or Facebook, so right now it’s fine by me! In fact, it’s more than fine; it’s fantastic. It’s a warm, heavenly mess of gooey and sweet and buttery and crisp — and since it’s simple to put together but comes out looking fancy, it’d be perfect for a party or nice dinner.

Or as a personal snack. At parties, I usually eat a few crackerfuls of brie and then politely leave the cheese plate to other folks. Turns out when you’re an adult and can make all sorts of bad food decisions with reckless abandon, you can eat the entire wheel of brie by yourself (though, given that I felt decidedly gross after doing so, perhaps I shouldn’t recommend it). Here’s to moderation!

Do you observe Lent? If so, what are you giving up?

Brie En Croute with Figs & Rosemary

Recipe by: Willow Bird Baking
Yield: This recipe would probably serve about 5-6 people at a party.

My favorite recipes are easy, pretty, and delicious, and this one fits the bill. Brie baked inside of puff pastry is already a gooey, buttery masterpiece, but adding sweet figs and some rosemary to the mix creates a fantastic flavor profile.

1 sheet of frozen puff pastry, thawed (or make your own!)
1 8-ounce wheel of brie (rind on)
1/4 cup fig jam or preserves
1/4 cup chopped dried figs
1 1/2 tablespoons roughly chopped fresh rosemary
1 egg
1 tablespoon water

Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix jam, chopped figs, and rosemary. Set this in the fridge until you’re ready to use it.

Gently roll out the sheet of puff pastry on a lightly floured surface just enough to smooth out the seams and thin it a bit. Spoon your jam mixture into a small circle (about the size of your brie wheel) in the center of the pastry sheet and place your brie on top of it snugly. Carefully pull the puff pastry sheet up around the brie, cutting off any excess (I use a clean pair of kitchen scissors) and pressing the pastry to seal it together at the top. Use a pastry brush to dust off the excess flour.

Place the covered brie seam side down on a baking sheet covered with parchment paper or a silicon baking mat. Use scraps to decorate your brie, if you wish (you can use a wet finger to moisten the dough slightly and “glue” them on). Whisk egg and water together in a small bowl and use a pastry brush to apply this egg wash to the whole surface of the pastry . Bake this wheel at 425 degrees F for 18-25 minutes, or until it’s good and golden brown (if you have decorations on top, check it early and often to see if you need to cover them with foil, because they’ll darken quicker than the rest of the wheel). After removing your wheel from the oven, let it sit for 15 minutes if you like it very melty and about 20-25 minutes if you like an average melt (as pictured above). Then serve with toast or crackers.

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41 Comments on Brie En Croute with Figs & Rosemary

  1. Diana
    February 23, 2012 at 5:04 am (12 years ago)

    I wish I had some of this right now! Looks great, roomie! πŸ˜‰

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      February 23, 2012 at 5:17 am (12 years ago)

      Thanks, roomie! I wish I had some more, too; but then again, I probably don’t need anymore . . .

  2. Gio
    February 23, 2012 at 6:14 am (12 years ago)

    Julie these look sooooo good!!!!!

  3. Jules
    February 23, 2012 at 6:46 am (12 years ago)

    Oh I know what’s for dinner tonight! Thanks!

  4. DessertForTwo
    February 23, 2012 at 2:58 pm (12 years ago)

    I love reading food blogs that discuss religion too πŸ™‚ Some of my favorite bloggers are Christians πŸ™‚

    This year, I’m giving up fancy food. I’m giving up spending >$50 / week on groceries for two people. It’s extravagant and we don’t need it. I know I should give up tea and excessive computer time too though.

    I’ll be thinking about you this season πŸ™‚

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      February 23, 2012 at 6:31 pm (12 years ago)

      Oh dear, you are much better with groceries than I am! I spend that on one person. Now I need to reevaluate!

      Thanks, Christina! Best wishes for your Lent sacrifice.

  5. Mary
    February 23, 2012 at 5:24 pm (12 years ago)

    I’m giving up potatoes– mostly to cover chips and fries, so if someone offers me a nice stew or soup and it happens to include some potatoes, I will certainly not decline!

    A few years ago I gave up carbonated beverages and it has stuck. Not caffeine though– I need my coffee! πŸ™‚ Maybe someday, but I do think that one is among the hardest food-related goals to tackle.

    I like the structure and rhythm and history of Lent. It always comes along right when I’m ready to try and do better and ends right when Spring is in full swing and I’m ready to have fun :).

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      February 23, 2012 at 6:32 pm (12 years ago)

      I’d never thought of it, but you’re right about the rhythm! And good for you for giving up carbonation — I’m used to drinking it alllll day long and I know it’s horrible for me.

      Thanks, Mary πŸ™‚

  6. Mariette
    February 23, 2012 at 7:41 pm (12 years ago)

    This looks lovely! Definitely going to making this sometime soon, do you reckon it will work with Brie triangles too though? (They are a fair bit cheaper than brie wheels in this country)

  7. Maria
    February 24, 2012 at 12:57 am (12 years ago)

    Love all of these flavors! Great party food!

  8. Jenni
    February 24, 2012 at 1:20 am (12 years ago)

    This looks amazing, Julie! Brie happens to be my all time favorite thing ever. I have always wanted to make a brie en croute, but I don’t trust myself with not eating the whole thing. See, you step away from the cheese platter after a few bites. But I stay until the brie is gone! πŸ™‚

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      February 24, 2012 at 1:25 am (12 years ago)

      Well I sure did that with this one too, Jenni — I need to resist making it again until someone’s here to help me eat it. LOL. Thanks πŸ™‚

  9. Joanne
    February 24, 2012 at 2:59 am (12 years ago)

    I can’t remember the last time I gave up something for lent, but actually I do really appreciate the symbolism and the determination it takes to really give up something you love or are just accustomed to for that long! Good luck with giving up internet time! I know you can do it.

    This brie en croute is definitely something I could eat in one sitting. Brie is my eternal weakness.

  10. Foodiewife
    February 24, 2012 at 4:36 am (12 years ago)

    Oh my. Look at that melted brief. Brie and figs are a perfect pairing. What a beautiful crust, and I love that spiral design. I admire anyone who can give up sugar. I can’t. I fear my husband would ship me off to Siberia, if I didn’t get a sugar fix. Blessed Lenting to you!

  11. Javelin Warrior
    February 24, 2012 at 2:06 pm (12 years ago)

    Julie, I have never seen this done with brie before – and I’m entranced! All that gooey cheese melting out of the puff pastry – and the design on top…Love it. I have featured this post in today’s Friday Food Fetish roundup. Let me know if you have any objections and thanks as ever for the inspiration…

  12. Juli
    February 25, 2012 at 3:13 am (12 years ago)

    I received a jar of fig preserves for Christmas and didn’t know how I’d use it; now I do. Thanks!

  13. Caz
    February 26, 2012 at 11:36 pm (12 years ago)

    Yum! I love baked brie (although I usually use phyllo pastry because I prefer it to puff). In the past I’ve done balsamic caramelised onions, blueberries, mushrooms, home-made orange cranberry sauce, and red pepper jelly. All have been amazing.

  14. Christina
    March 1, 2012 at 3:02 am (12 years ago)

    Oh mercy me, brie en croute is one of my favorite favorite things!

  15. amaya
    March 16, 2012 at 5:07 pm (12 years ago)

    I like very much your picts for the “recipe done”, but will be vey helpful if you can make and ad some of the inverse process, photos of doing it !!!! πŸ™‚
    I’m more visual person, I keep in mind much more if I see how to…
    Like you site

    • Julie @ Willow Bird Baking
      March 17, 2012 at 4:59 am (12 years ago)

      Thanks for the feedback, Amaya! My current time/space constraints don’t allow me to do step-by-step photos, but I try to be descriptive in my recipes and am happy to answer any questions. Maybe eventually!

  16. Tiffany
    December 21, 2012 at 9:41 pm (12 years ago)

    Did you use fresh or dried rosemary? The ingredients list doesn’t specify but i know it can be important.

    Also…I wonder if anyone has tried using filo dough instead of puff pastry…if so how was it?

    • Tiffany
      December 21, 2012 at 9:43 pm (12 years ago)

      I guess what i forgot was how many layers and doyou brush with butter etc…

  17. Cindy
    December 22, 2012 at 11:30 pm (12 years ago)

    I will be making this for a Christmas Eve party. I can’t wait to see how it turns out. Thanks for the idea!!!


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