One Christmas, I wanted to make two kinds of baked Camembert—one sweet and one savory—but I had never actually baked Camembert before. For the savory one, I sweated some mushrooms with fresh herbs and shallots, and for the sweet, I paired the cheese with poached prunes. Unfortunately, I didn’t have two free pans because I was making so many other things for the holiday meal, so I put both cheeses in one large pan, thinking I could still serve them separately.
They ended up melting and morphing into a single dish—a very happy accident, indeed. I set the whole thing out on the table with a baguette for people to rip into, and everyone went nuts for the dish. I know it might sound surprising, but the combination of earthy, sweet, and savory flavors all mixed together really works. Sometimes cooking is just like that. It’s important to stay calm and realize that mistakes can lead to great things.
- Yield: 4 Servings
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
- ½ cup diced shallot
- 2 cups thinly sliced cremini or button mushrooms
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 teaspoons thyme leaves
- ¾ cup Armagnac-poached prunes, roughly chopped into ½-inch
- 1 (8- to 10-ounce) wheel Camembert or other double-crème, French-
- style cheese, such as Brie
- Preheat the oven to 400°F.
- In a large black steel pan, warm the butter and oil over medium-high heat. Add the shallot and cook just until translucent, 1 to 2 minutes. Add the mushrooms, salt, and pepper and sauté, moving the mushrooms around, for 7 to 10 minutes, until they begin to color on their edges and the moisture they release evaporates. All of the mushrooms should be soft and tender, with no spongy quality or rawness to them. Turn the heat up at the end of cooking to evaporate any additional mushroom moisture and brown the edges very slightly. Add the thyme and prunes and sauté for an additional minute. Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool slightly, about 5 minutes.
- Unwrap the Camembert and place in a small baking dish. Place the prune and mushroom mixture all around and slightly on top of the cheese and bake for 5 to 10 minutes, until the cheese is warmed through, softened, and beginning to melt; you will see some cheese oozing out. Serve immediately.