Warm Brie & Date Bites

At the first sign of frost and chill, I begin dreaming of kitchen comforts.  I begin to categorize in my head all of the delicious things I will prepare, and the perfect gloaming light in which I will photograph them.  Stews, braises, puddings, cakes, savory lamb shanks cooked under the most perfect crust with just the slightest untidy boil-over {meant to look homemade and charming, just shy of a mess} flash behind my eyes, like the world’s best slide show.  I will tap the perfectly worn, turn of the century board from my vast selection of props, slide a piece of irish linen {just so} at the perfect angle and pose my dish as if it were Gigi Hadid on Capri.

That is always the plan.  Bless my heart for having such a great imagination.

The reality is this.  I’m dreaming of kitchen comforts, but I would gladly toss them aside for a kitchen cleaner.  I’m positioning our meals between bottle feeding goats and mucking out chicken coops.  I own beautiful dishes and linens and worn boards, but find myself opting for those pieces that are within reach in my tiny kitchen.  And when I say in reach, I am being literal.

When we have company, I channel my imaginative moments.  I {she said sheepishly} create a scene. A “why yes, we always have cocktails and warm truffled marcona almonds on the deck.  Here, please stave the chill with one of these throws we keep tucked behind the bar for moments like this”scene.  Maybe I don’t go that far…but I go pretty far.  Why I do it, is not up for discussion.  But how I do it is.

I keep it simple; putting together things that can hit more than one note, and can be mostly prepared in advance.
These warm brie & date bites are a wonderful treat that pairs well with champagne, bourbon neat, or mulled cider.

Warm Brie & Date Bites
10 mini brie rounds {i have found them at trader joes}
puff pastry; defrosted and chilled
10 large dried dates; pits removed
maldon salt {or your favorite sea salt}

Slice the top off each brie round (it is best if they are cold for this step).  Prepare a sheet pan by lining with parchment paper or a silpat.   Using a cookie cutter, cut 10 rounds from the puff pastry that are only slightly larger than the brie. Using a knife, cut strips of puff pastry as wide as the brie bites are high. Using a pastry brush, one at a time,  brush the 1 round and  1 strip with water.  Place the brie on top of the round then wrap with the strip, making sure the ends meet or slightly overlap.  Cup the brie in your hand to make sure the bottom is attached to the strip.  Leave the open top exposed {the end without rind should be facing up}.  Butterfly the pitted date and place, gooey side down, on top of the brie.  Continue with remaining brie rounds.  Place in refrigerator to chill for a minimum of 30 minutes.
At this point you can cover and keep in the refrigerator overnight.
When you are ready to bake, preheat oven to 400F.  Space the bites with at least 1″ between them and bake until golden brown.  Depending on your oven, this could be 15 minutes or it could be 30 minutes. Start checking on them at 15 minutes.  When the pastry is puffed and golden brown, remove from oven.  While still warm, drizzle with honey and sprinkle a bit of sea salt on each one. Serve warm or room temperature.