Baked brie is awesome--a wheel of creamy cheese wrapped in a puff pasty and baked until molten. What's not to like? I've always made it with apricot preserves and pecans, or something similar. Then I started wondering how I could incorporate beer into it.
I picked an English barleywine-style ale as the beer to use. They are high in alcohol (8-11%+ ABV) and strong in flavor. A well-brewed barleywine can have flavors similar to raisins and dates, so I decided to soak chopped dates along with pecans in the ale overnight. The sugar was added to balance some of the bitterness.
Be sure to choose an English-style barleywine, not an American-style. American barleywines tend to be hoppier, whereas the English ones will be fruitier and less hoppy. I used a 2-year old homebrewed barleywine, but there are plenty of commercial varieties available in the US: JW Lees Harvest Ale, Brooklyn Monster, and Weyerbacher Blithering Idiot. For a more complete listing, check out BeerAdvocate.
barleywine baked brie
1/3 c pecans, chopped
1/3 c dates, chopped
1/3 c brown sugar
1 bottle English barlywine-style ale
8oz wheel of brie
1 sheet of puff pasty, thawed
1 egg, beaten
1. Mix together pecans, dates, sugar and enough barleywine to cover in a small bowl. Refrigerate overnight. Enjoy any remaing barleywine.
2. Pulse the mixture a few times in a food processor to break down the dates and nuts.
3. Heat in a small saucepan over medium-low for around 20-30 minutes, until it reduces down. Stir often to prevent sticking or scorching. Let cool.
4. Heat the over to 350F. Slice the wheel of brie into 2 discs. Spread the mixture between the two and reassemble. Spread more of the mixture over the top and maybe around the sides.
5. Spread out the puff pasty and place the brie in the center. Wrap the pastry around the seal.
6. Apply an egg wash across the top for extra style points, then into the oven for about 25 minutes. Let cool at least 10-15 minutes before serving.
Recommended Beer Pairing: Pair this with the exact same barleywine you used inside. Be sure to let the ale warm some to experience it's full flavor.