Baked Brie Grilled Cheese with Apples, Pecans and Cranberries
We love holidays for all of the comforting recipes and this one is comfort and nostalgia all into one. It's the best holiday take on a grilled cheese but just a bit more elevated. Think casual dinner party food but still elevated enough to impress your friends!
It's creamy, sweet, nutty and has bursts of lemon and sage. This grilled cheese is actually inspired by our baked brie and loaded sweet potatoes. You could even use the same toppings to make all three. It's that easy!
Ingredients for Making Baked Brie Grilled Cheese with Apples, Pecans and Cranberries
Brie cheese: The type of Brie you choose to use does not make a huge difference, for the most part, but I like to use a double-cream brie. While it is good to have a creamy consistency, I tend to steer away from the brie labeled “creamy” or the ones with additional cream added.
Nuts: Pecans are by far my favorite nut to use in this recipe, but walnuts also work as a comparable substitute. The key in choosing your nut is to make sure it pairs well with your other toppings. Pistachios also work very well.
Dried Fruit: Dried cherries are the perfect substitute for dried cranberries if you want to go in another direction. Dried figs or even dates work very nicely as well.
Fresh Fruit: Diced apples really bring the dish together. Their texture and flavor complete the dish and bring it to the next level. An easy substitute for apples is to use pears. I always like to use fruit that is in season, so in the warmer months, feel free to use fresh berries or figs.
Herb: Similar to the fresh fruit, I like to use whichever herb is in season during the time that I make the grilled cheese. If you are using a berry, mint or basil is a great option because sage has a tendency to be a little overpowering for berries.
Sweetener/Binder: The apple butter not only adds a complementary sweetness to the filling, but it also binds everything together to create a compote-like consistency. If you are using another type of fruit, it is a good idea to use a jam or preserves made from that fruit instead of apple butter.
Citrus: The zest of the citrus is added to break through the sweetness and add a fragrant burst to the dish. If you choose not to use lemon, orange or even grapefruit are solid substitutes.
Tips for the Best Brie Grilled Cheese with Apples, Pecans and Cranberries
Taste the filling and adjust the flavoring accordingly before using: The recipe is simply a guideline. Make sure you taste a bit of the filling and adjust accordingly before adding it to the grilled cheese. If you want more nuts in the filling, add more nuts! The same can be said for any of the other ingredients. Don’t be afraid to adapt the recipe and make it your own. That’s what cooking is all about.
Make sure you put a piece of brie on each side of the filling before cooking the grilled cheese: Sometimes, making a loaded grilled cheese can be a big pain because the filling always likes to fall out when you try to flip it. A good way to avoid this problem is to make sure to have some cheese on each side of the filling. As the heat melts the cheese, it will naturally bind the bread to the filling and help prevent the sandwich from falling apart mid-flip.
Transfer your pecans to a baking sheet tray and toast them for about 5-7 minutes or until they are slightly colored and you can start to smell toasted pecans in your kitchen. Once toasted, remove them from the oven and allow them to cool at room temperature while you prepare the filling.
Prepare the filling by dicing the apples into small dice (about the size of your pinky nail) and transferring them to a bowl. Pick and chop your fresh sage, then roughly chop the toasted pecans and add those to the apples. Add the dried cranberries, the apple butter, the salt, and the zest of the lemon. Mix everything to combine and evenly distribute the apple butter to bind the ingredients.
Slice your sourdough bread into slices about the width of your pinky (or to your liking), and then slice your brie into thin slices.
Assemble your grilled cheeses by adding 1-2 slices of brie on a slice of bread, followed by about ¼ cup of the filling, followed by another slice of brie, and the second piece of bread.
Once all of the grilled cheeses are assembled, place a large non-stick skillet onto the stove and heat over medium heat. Heat the pan for about 20 seconds, and then add about one tablespoon of butter. Melt the butter in the pan and then place 2 of your assembled sandwiches in the pan and turn the heat down to medium-low heat.
Cook each sandwich for about 2-3 minutes or until the bread is golden-brown.
Once the bread that is face down in the pan is golden-brown, flip each sandwich and repeat the same process, adding another tablespoon of butter into the pan, until the other half is also golden-brown and the brie is melted inside the sandwich.
Remove the cooked sandwiches from the pan and repeat the process on the remaining sandwiches.
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