A Special Christmas Surprise

I wanted to share with you all a special Christmas surprise that my husband and I have developed a taste for over the last two Christmases – Baked Camembert (pronounced Cam- em- bare)! I hope you come to love it!

Some of you may be asking “What in the world is Camembert?” In simplest terms it’s a French cheese that is often used to make a special Christmas Surprise. At my house, we bake this cheese with several different flavor profiles. There are lots of different ways to add our own flavor twist if you want to get creative!

I was first introduced to baked Camembert from a British friend from Wales who grew up with this delightful treat every Christmas. It was part of her family tradition for the holidays. So this year, I’d like to share it with you.

So Let’s Get Started

Start by preheating the oven to 350°F (177°C)

The Basic Recipe

To make what I describe in this post, here are the ingredients you need:

  • 1 wheel of Camembert Cheese (find in your specialty cheese section of any good grocery store)
  • 1 clove of fresh Garlic
  • 1-2 sprigs of fresh Rosemary
  • 1-2 Tablespoons of Olive Oil (enough for drizzle)

Bake at 350°F (177°C) for 20 minutes

The Cheese

As for the cheese itself, although Camembert is very similar to Brie and is made with the same dairy products (cows milk), Camembert is lighter because it doesn’t have the extra cream added during the process. If you are interested in more about this wonderful treat, check it out on Wikipedia.

It’s important, when making baked Camembert that you don’t skimp on the cheese as it is the center point of this delight. The best brand I have had here in the States is La Bonne Vie. It’s delicious and the texture is outstanding!

A Wheel Of La Bonne Vie Camembert Cheese

Unwrapping The Layers

It’s important if you have never had Camembert that you understand the layers. When you open it up, there is the cardboard or wooden package that you want to keep. You will bake in that packaging. Once you take it out of the outer packaging, there is an inner packaging that is plastic and that you want to remove (gold colored wrapping in the pictures below). Finally you will see a soft, almost felt-like, layer. This is the bark of the cheese itself. Do not try to remove this. It’s actually part of the cheese, is edible and gives the cheese structure when you bake it.

The way I prep it is to take it all out and unwrap the plastic laying it flat, then I take the outer cardboard (or wood) box and place it over the top of the cheese then press the cheese into the box (without the plastic). Then simply flip it and peel the wrapper the rest of the way off of the cheese

Now For The Spice Of Life

Now we add some flavors!

This is a traditional recipe and very simple. We are going to season this with garlic and rosemary with an olive oil drizzle. First, break down a full clove of fresh garlic and throw away all of the peels. Along with that you will need 1 sprig of fresh Rosemary.

Prepping The Fresh Spices

Now that we have the spices ready…

Assembly Time

First, you want to score the top of the cheese so that the flavors can penetrate the outer bark of the cheese. You want to score it about 1/4 inch (6-7 mm) deep. I’ve included a couple of videos of how my husband does it. He’s made 5 of these over the past week for various Christmas parties.

Next, we add the spices – This is what makes it a special Christmas surprise because while this is a common recipe, you can add a lot of other flavors if you prefer.

  • Cut the garlic sections in half (to expose the juices inside the garlic) and press down into the slices in the cheese
  • Break off the leaves of the Rosemary sprig and press down into the slices as well
  • Finally, drizzle olive oil over the top of the cheese with the spices pressed into it. Optionally for decoration, you can add another sprig of Rosemary on top as well.
Scoring the Cheese
Adding the spices

Baking Time

By the time you have assembled everything, your oven should be up to heat.

Place in the preheated oven and set a timer for 20 minutes. I like to put mine in a pan (in this case a cast iron 9×13). This is important because the olive oil will make a mess if it doesn’t have something to run over into.

Just Before Baking

Now The Fun Part

Once it’s baked, take it carefully out of the oven and serve immediately. The cheese will be hot and kinda runny so perfect for dipping. Now you might be asking “what should I dip in it?” Well, I’m glad you asked because I love to use pita chips or bread, but my favorite is to cut a baguette into thin slices, lay them on a baking sheet and spray or mist with olive oil and sprinkle a little sea salt and garlic powder over them, then toast them in the oven until crispy. Perfect for dipping in baked Camembert

I really hope you try this and enjoy

Other Options And Ideas

Here are a few other options I’ve done before and other ideas I’ve been thinking of trying

  • Garlic, Rosemary and Olive Oil (detailed in this post)
  • Roasted Red Pepper, Red Pepper Flakes and Olive Oil – did this one last week by roasting my own red peppers
  • Pears, Pecans and Honey (instead of the Olive Oil) – did this one last week too… was a nice baked desert
  • Apples, Cinnamon, Raisins and Honey

There are so many different things you can do if you just take a few minutes and think through what flavors you like to combine. Happy experimenting to make a special Christmas surprise of your own.

More Favorite Recipes:

These Are A Few of Our Favorite Things – Con’t

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