This is quite possibly the most decadent, amazing appetizer I've every made and if I could afford the calories I'd eat it every day. For. Ev. Er.
It's crunchy and sweet and savory and creamy and delicious.
This came from cheese aficionado, Laura Werlin's book, Cheese Essentials which, if you love cheese like I do, absolutely needs to be in your cookbook library. It is the bible for all things fromage!
When we went to the Food and Wine Classic in Aspen a few years ago, her grilled cheese and wine pairing seminar was at the top of my wish list. Like a lot of my other wishes (to look like Gisele, to love my workouts, and to have amazingly sharp wit) it didn't come to fruition. But everywhere we went that weekend, that was the ONE seminar those lucky enough to attend said was the hands-down best.
After making this I can see why she got all that love.
If you're like me and hate Chardonnay or like my husband and hate raisins, it won't matter here. Once you combine those two with sugar and vanilla and let them bathe together for 24 hours you won't be able to resist.
Did I mention how much I loved this?
Here's the recipe:
Brie Toasts with Chardonnay-Soaked Golden Raisins
Laura Werlin's Cheese Essentials
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup Chardonnay (preferably aged in oak....which is the majority of domestic Chards)
1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in half vertically
1 cup golden raisins
12 ounces Fromager d'Affinois cheese sliced into 24 pieces (or use any double-creme brie, which is what I used)
24 slices baguette cut 1/4 inch thick
4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
In a medium-size saucepan, combine the water, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the liquid and add the remaining bean. Add the raisins. Let steep uncovered for at least 1 hour at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid. Discard the vanilla bean. Put the liquid back in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to about 1/3 cup, or until the syrup turns a deep golden color, 10 to 15 minutes. Watch carefully so the syrup doesn't burn. If it starts to foam, remove from heat immediately. The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools and have a texture similar to light maple syrup. Cool completely.
Preheat the oven to 400 deg. (I set mine to broil and set the top rack to the lower third of the oven and broiled. If you do this, DON'T LEAVE them unattended. Watch very closely.)
Brush butter onto both sides of the bread slices. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
To assemble: Put a slice of cheese on each toast. Sprinkle with a few raisins and drizzle syrup over the top.
If you have any raisins and syrup left over, combine them and refrigerate in an airtight container. They will keep for 2 weeks.