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~ Fried Hazelnut-Crusted Brie w/Apple-Pear Puree ~

IMG_5323Yes, you read it right, this is deep-fried Brie.  I suppose I have always been a fearless fryer, because, the moment I received this recipe, without any hesitation, I drove to our local K-Mart to 71-2Xv9ELQL._SL1500_buy a Fry Daddy.  The Presto Fry Daddy (introduced in 1977), was basically an electric, temperature-controlled nonstick pot with a handle and a lid.  It was the precursor to our pricey present-day cool-touch deep-fryers with all of their fancy filters, heat-control settings and timers. The inexpensive Fry Daddy is still being sold today and they still work great!

Back in the 1970's I was in Philadelphia often.  Besides great shopping, Philly is full of fantastic places to eat and we ate somewhere different every time we visited the City of Brotherly Love. All of the fancy restaurants aside, my favorite place was simply named "Frog" (The Frog Commissary/Delicatessen).  The original Frog no longer exists, but, The Frog Commissary Catering Company, now located inside The Franklin Institute's historic building, runs all of its dining services, onsite eateries, seasonal restaurants, in-house and special events caterings.

6a0120a8551282970b0168eb4674b5970cEverything in the Frog that was edible was incredible.  I never tasted anything I did not absolutely adore.  From their appetizers to desserts, Frog served impeccably prepared and presented food.  One item on their hors d'oeuvres menu was heaven on a plate:  hot, oozing wedges of mellow, nut-crusted deep-fried Brie placed atop a puddle of spiced apple-pear puree and served with a basket of water biscuits.  The Frog Commissary Cookbook came out in 1985 and I got a copy immediately. When I turned to page 31, my heart skipped a beat.  There it was in black and white.  The recipe for Deep-Fried Brie in Almond Crust with Apple-Pear Puree.  I was off to the K-Mart to buy a Fry Daddy!

 This is the most addictive appetizer you will ever eat!

IMG_5331In the original recipe, wedges of Brie were deep-fried because that it how this hors d'oeuvre was served in the restaurant to individuals.  I made the leap to using small wheels of Brie, to serve at my holiday appetizer buffets after reading their "Notes and Variations" at the end of the recipe:

Coated, unfried wheels of Brie will keep for one day in the refrigerator.  You can also deep-fry the cheese, cool and chill it overnight, then reheat it in a 325 degree oven the next day for 10-12 minutes. For same-day preparation and caterings, we deep-fry the Brie for 1-2 minutes, let it drain and cool (without chilling), then reheat it in the oven for 3-5 minutes just before serving. Too long in either the deep-fryer or the oven may cause the cheese to leak out, so, watch carefully.  Experiment with other soft cheeses (like Camembert) and nuts (like hazelnuts)!

IMG_51972  cups ~ Simply Silky & Smooth Spiced Apple & Pear Puree ~, 1 cup for each wheel of Brie (Note:  You can find my recipe by clicking on the Related Article link below.  It is worth saying that your own homemade or high-quality store-bought applesauce may be substituted.)

2  8-ounce, 4"-round wheels of Brie, kept chilled until it's time to crust and fry (Note:  Larger-sized wheels of Brie can be substituted, but do this with caution.  Make sure the wheel will fit comfortably into the basket of your deep-fryer without overcrowding it prior to purchasing it.)

IMG_51881  cup all-purpose flour

4  large eggs, at room temperature

1  cup plain, dry breadcrumbs

1  cup whole, unsalted hazelnuts, blanched, lightly-toasted and coarsely-ground (a mixture of small pieces and larger chunks)

butter crackers or water biscuits, for accompaniment

IMG_5107 IMG_5175Step 1.  If you purchase blanched hazelnuts (the manufacturer has removed the skins for you), roast them in a 375 degree oven for 8-10 minutes, until lightly-toasted and fragrant.  Remove from oven and set aside to cool completely, about 45-60 minutes.  If you purchase hazelnuts with the skins on, read my post ~ How to: Remove the Skin from Hazelnuts/Filberts ~ by clicking into Category 15, and, follow my directions.  Hazelnuts that are skinned my way will not need to be blanched or toasted as my method takes care of both processes at the same time.

IMG_5202 IMG_5204 IMG_5208Place hazelnuts in work bowl of food processor fitted with steel blade. Using a series of 20-30 rapid on-off pulses process to coarsely grind.

IMG_5215Tip from Mel:  It's almost time to set up your "deep-frying assembly line". Besides the obvious, a deep-fryer, you are going to need 3 flat-bottomed bowls.  Once upon a time I used 9" pie plates to dip and dredge my Brie, but now I use Pyrex 2-quart bowls.  Their flat, 6" bottoms and high sides are perfect for this task -- especially when using 4" round wheels of Brie!

Setting up the deep-frying assembly line & frying the Brie:

IMG_5217~ Step 2.  For easy cleanup, place some paper towels on the countertop.  Pictured left to right, here's what you'll need:  3 bowls, fork, tablespoon, deep-fryer, small metal spatula and long-handled fork.  To the back is a cooling rack, also placed on top of some paper towels.

IMG_5226~ Step 3.  In each of the three bowls, in the following order:  place the flour; using the fork, whisk the eggs, and; using the tablespoon, thoroughly stir together the bread crumbs and hazelnuts.  

Preheat oil in deep-fryer to 350 degrees.  I use peanut oil, feel free to substitute corn oil.  When deep-fryer is preheated, remove the first wheel of Brie from refrigerator and unwrap it.

IMG_5227 IMG_5230 IMG_5233 IMG_5236~Step 4.  Dredge the Brie in flour, dip it in the egg mixture, then coat it in crumb/nut mixture. IMG_5240 IMG_5244 IMG_5247Redip it in the eggs, then recoat it in the crumb/nut mixture.  Using just your fingertips, being careful not to disturb the delicate crust, gently lower it into the hot oil -- do not place it IMG_5255directly on the bottom of the fryer basket because it will stick.  Close the lid and fry for 1 1/2-2 mintues. Do not overcook.  Error on the side of not enough rather than too much.

IMG_5261Note:  Brie will have a deep-golden crust and will be slightly soft to the touch.  No cheese should be oozing through the crust.

IMG_5290With the aid of the fork and the spatula, gently lift the Brie out of the oil and place it on the cooling rack.  

Note:  Do not be inclined to use tongs.  The crust is very delicate and the tongs are likely to rip it open in spots.

Repeat the process with the second wheel of Brie.  How easy was that:

IMG_5291~ Step 5.  Place a 1/2 cup puddle of slightly-warm apple-pear puree on one of your favorite 8" plates.  Serve the remaining 1/2 cup in a small bowl to the side, for dipping and drizzling.  Yum!

IMG_5322 IMG_5309Place room temperature to slightly-warm Brie on a baking pan in a 350 degree oven for 2-4 minutes, or, in the microwave for 1-1 1/2-2 minutes.  Check often.  

Remove Brie from oven and use a spatula to carefully place it on top of the puree.  Slice it open and allow it to ooze into the puree.  Then, let it start to cool a moment or two.

Quite possibly the most perfect cheese and cracker combo:

IMG_5353Fried Hazelnut-Crusted Brie w/Apple-Pear Puree:  Recipe makes 2, 8-ounce, 4"-round wheels of Brie, with each Brie serving 4 persons as an appetizer.

Special Equipment List:  food processor; paper towels; 3, 2-quart sized, flat-bottomed Pyrex bowls or something similar, or, 3, 9" pie dishes; fork; tablespoon; deep-fryer; small metal spatula; long-handled fork; cooling rack

Cheese Cake #18 (Sliced with Warm Berry SauceCook's Note: The Frog Commissary Delicatessen had a dessert on their menu that was a particular favorite of mine too.  You can find my version of ~ Philly's "Frog" Commissary Lemon Cheesecake ~ in Categories 6 or 17 of this blog. It is "to die for".  You can find their recipe for Ann Clark's Basic Sour Cream Cheesecake on pages 235 thru 238 of their cookbook!

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2014)


Teresa -- when I made this yesterday, Joe and I ended up reminiscing about some of the cocktail/dinner parties we've hosted over the years. There was a period of time in the latter 80's and early 90's that we gave an annual party, and, regular invitees would ASK if I'd be serving this. It falls into the Mel category of "stationary appetizer" meaning: I'd place 2-3-4 of these on the bar (the "bar" being the literal bar with barstools where people sit and come to get drinks) at the start of every party. If ever an appetizer was/is a party starter, this is it!!!

This is truly a labor of love, Mel! Lovely history and blog.:)

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