Sunday, December 22, 2013

Decadence Is

When you think of "decadence" in the context of food, it almost always comes with an exhorbitant price tag.  A meal at Kaatje aan de Sluis, for instance, is certainly costly, but it wouldn't be properly decadent without something deliciously terrible for your health.  Food has been conflated with virtue ever since Pythagoras decided one was what one ate--and these days, with nutrition being so advanced, the web between virtue and nutrition and food grows ever more tangled.  

Therefore:  do not make this if you are trying to be virtuous, whether that means dieting or going to church.  It will certainly ruin your diet, and although brie is a mild cheese, baking it probably releases some especially pungent compounds that will win you no friends at church.  The dish is a wonderful blend of sweet and savory, topped off with a decadent creaminess from the melted, gooey brie and the buttery praline sauce.  I ate it off of baguette slices, and was never happier for it. 

The recipe can be found at Something Swanky, and although it is an American recipe it's not too hard to convert it to metric units.  Butter is 1/4 of a 250-gram package--see what I meant about "decadent"?--while brown sugar can be eye-balled, as long as it's lots.  The exact quantity of brown sugar isn't too important--use less and you'll have less sauce, use more and you'll get more--since the recipe doesn't call for caramelizing the mixture.  1/2 cup of cream is about 120 mL.  1/4 tsp of baking soda equals "one generous pinch".  

You'll notice that my brie is an oval, rather than a proper wheel.  This is because for some reason, the Kaufland only had brie cheese in an oval.  You can, of course, find it in a circular wheel in the Albert Heijn, although you'll probably pay more than €1 for it.  The pecans were also gotten from the Kaufland, which is worth mentioning only because for some reason whole, unshelled nuts were being sold there.  In the Netherlands, you can find walnuts in the shell, and chestnuts in the shell, but every other kind of nut is sold pre-shelled...and is pretty pricey, at around €2 for a half-cup of nuts.  On the upside--you don't have to realize you don't have a nutcracker and then spend 20 minutes painstakingly tapping the nuts with a hammer, hoping that they don't break.  

The other upside is that it costs less than a pint of Ben & Jerry's here, makes you feel like a million bucks, and because it's cheese (albeit slathered in praline sauce) and nuts (albeit slathered in praline sauce) you can tell yourself it's healthy for you.  Even if you do end up eating the entire thing.  Not that I would tell you if I did, or anything....

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