Anniversary Dinner: Aperitifs and Hors D’Oeuvres

On Monday I gave you a peek at the decor and the menu for our first anniversary dinner and today’s post is all about the first two courses! We started the meal off with a delicious blackberry flavored aperitif (which is how the French like to start a meal) and moved right into two incredibly decadent hors d’oeuvres. The first is Brie en Croute (brie in crust) which is a wheel of brie topped with walnuts sautéed in butter and brown sugar wrapped in puff pastry and baked until golden brown. The second hors d’oeuvres was Fromage de Chèvre, Canneberges et Noix Canapés (goat cheese, walnut and cranberry canapés) which is the aforementioned ingredients on top of toasted baguette slices. We took our time eating this meal (over the course of 6 hours) so this was a great and hearty start. 

To make the aperitif which is called a “Pompier Cocktail” fill two tall glasses with a few ice cubes. Pour in 2 oz. of creme de cassis (a blackberry liquor) and 1 oz. dry vermouth in each glass. Top the glass off with club soda.

Next it’s time for the Brie En Croute. Start by defrosting 1 sheet of frozen puff pastry a half hour before beginning. Preheat your oven to 375 degrees, and melt 1 tbsp unsalted butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add 1/2 cup walnuts to the butter and sauté until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add in 1/4 tsp cinnamon to the pan and stir well to coat. Unfold the puff pastry and lay an 8 ounce wheel of brie in the center. Top the brie with the walnut mixture and 1/4 cup light brown sugar. Pull the puff pastry one piece at a time up over the top until the whole thing is encased. Tie like a present with kitchen twine.

Melt 1 tbsp unsalted butter and brush the whole thing with it. You can cut out shapes to add to the top of the brie en croute at this point (I did hearts). Bake for 20 minutes until the puff pastry is golden brown. Cut off the kitchen twine and serve with crackers.

For the canapés: Preheat your oven to 375 degrees. Toss 3/4 cup walnuts with 1 tsp olive oil and 1/4 tsp cinnamon. Season with salt and pepper and spread out evenly on a baking sheet. Bake until golden brown, about 4-6 minutes then set aside to cool. Cut a french baguette in thin slices and brush with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Bake until lightly toasted (10-15 minutes). While the baguette is toasting, stir together 8 oz softened goat cheese and 2 tbsp water in a small bowl. Stir in 1/2 cup dried cranberries and 1 tbsp fresh chopped thyme. Spread this onto the baguette slices and top with the toasted walnuts and a few fresh thyme leaves.