My mom's side of the family is Scandinavian, and in Scandinavia—Christmas Eve is a bigger deal than Christmas night. So Christmas Eve has always been spent with my aunt and uncle, often at their house. My aunt is really good at appetizers, and sometimes I think they're better than the meal itself (but maybe that's just me). One of the more recent additions to the appetizer plate has been a heavenly baked brie with cinnamon, pecans, cranberries, and brown sugar. It made such an immediate impression on me that I almost can't remember a Christmas before this recipe incorporated itself into the holiday traditions.

A perfect blend of salty, sweet, and savory (not to mention warm and gooey): This baked brie is the perfect treat that your friends and family will love—and it’s deceptively easy to make. This recipe came from The Girl Who Ate Everything

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Step 1: Preheat Oven

Preheat your oven to 375°F. While the oven is preheating, lay out your puff pastry on a baking sheet and allow it to thaw. I used a piece of aluminum foil on the sheet to reduce clean up, but this was a big mistake. It stuck to the bottom of the puff pastry and ended up adding work.

Step 2: Soak Cranberries

Set cranberries in a small bowl of water to soak. This step is particularly important if your cranberries have been around for a while and a little harder than normal.

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Step 3: Make Pecan Filling

In a small saucepan, melt butter on medium-high heat. Stir in pecans and cinnamon, and toast for about three minutes.

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Step 4: Add Toppings

Lay the brie in the center of the puff pastry, then top it with the pecan filling. Next, crumble the brown sugar on top. Drain the cranberries and add on top of the sugar. If a little falls off the top of the brie, don’t worry about it—as long as it’s still on the puff pastry, it’ll get wrapped up in there and you’ll never know the difference. 

 For those of you cooks who, like me, haven't had much personal interaction with a wheel of brie it has a kind of white film on the top that doesn't really look like it's supposed to be there. Don't worry about this, it's totally normal. 

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Step 5: Fold Puff Pastry

Bring the corners of the puff pastry up and over and press them together. This may be difficult if there’s a lot of flour on the puff pastry. If so, grab a bowl and beat an egg in it, then use a pastry brush to dampen the corners of the puff pastry with the egg. I find that applying the egg to both sides made them too wet, but applying to only one side creates a nice glue. Fold up the pockets on the side so that the brie and all the toppings are completely wrapped.

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Step 6: Brush with Egg

Once the pastry is folded, brush the entire top of the dough with the beaten egg. 

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Step 7: Bake

Pop the tray in the oven and bake for 15-20 minutes, or until the pastry is a golden brown.

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Step 8: Cut and Serve

Cut and serve while the brie is still hot and melted. Yum! 

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This sweet-and-salty pastry is one of my favorite holiday treats and is always a hit at winter gatherings. What makes it better is that you can serve this as a killer appetizer or it can double as dessert. Plus, with the golden pecans and dark red cranberries, it just looks like Christmas. I hope you (and your guests) love it just as much as I do!

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