It happened again... somehow, December just snuck up on me, stealthy and sneaky-like, bringing with it the usual round of parties and potlucks and baking and shopping and gift-giving and merry-making.
That doesn't exactly leave much time for baking, which is where these Cranberry Brie Bites come in.
At this time of year I'm all about the easy appetizer recipes... probably because at our house, the holidays are synonymous with our big holiday Open House party. And when it comes to appetizers, it doesn't get easier than this.
Four ingredients. Twenty minutes. That's literally all you need.
Holiday Entertaining Made Easy
Our holiday open house has been an annual tradition for as long as we've lived in here. It's an excuse to cram our house full with as many friends, family and neighbours as we can possibly fit, and to cover every available surface in the house with various nibbles.
And while some folks are all about the cookie platters, I think it's the savoury nibbles that are the star of the show. Forget the sweets - give me a fancy cheese board, some saucy meatballs, an assortment of dips and a few crostini, and I'm a happy camper.
The trick, as I've learned, is to choose appetizers that deliver maximum flavour with minimum effort.
Meat and cheese boards are a favourite because they can be quickly assembled at the last minute. Dips and spreads are also a good choice, because they can be made ahead and actually taste better after a few days in the fridge. Same goes for cheese balls.
And obviously, these easy-peasy puff pastry bites with cranberry and brie.
Why These Brie and Cranberry Bites are the Perfect Holiday Appetizer
I've been baked up dozens of batches of these bite-sized pastries over the years, and they've been a huge hit every single time.
They bake up quick, so they're great as a last minute appetizer for impromptu guests.
And they travel well, which makes them equally great for a holiday potluck at work, or to tote along to a friend's house for a casual get-together.
And best of all, they're a great way to use up those cranberry sauce leftovers from Thanksgiving. (And if you don't have any leftovers, then it's the perfect excuse to get a head start on the cranberry sauce for your Christmas dinner... think of it as multi-tasking.)
The only downside is that these little bites will disappear in half the time they take to make, so I'd strongly suggest popping a second batch into the oven before you put the first one out.
I mean, that is why most puff pastry packages include two sheets, isn't it? :)
A Few Variations on This Recipe
The beauty of this recipe is that it's actually a pretty basic formula - puff pastry, cheese, fruit, and some optional flavourings.
From there, the only limit is your imagination (and your appetite).
For example, I used it to make these equally delicious and equally easy Fig and Cheese Tartlets using a combination of fig jam, grated semi-soft cheese, and a sprinkling of fresh thyme leaves.
Other options you could try include sundried tomato pesto and cubes of soft feta. Or caramelized onions and grated Swiss cheese. Or pear jam and blue cheese.
Feeling like something sweet instead? Then turn these into mini cheesecakes using your favourite pie filling and a dollop of sweetened ricotta.
More Easy Holiday Appetizers
Need a few more quick and easy appetizers to add to your party menu? Look no further... I've got you covered!
- Ridiculously Easy Roast Red Pepper Dip
- Pineapple-Pecan Cheese Ball
- Killer Artichoke Cheese Bread
- Baked Goat Cheese Dip with Balsamic Fig Compote
These little bite-sized puff pastry brie and cranberry bites have all the goodness of a fancy baked brie en croute, but come together in a fraction of the time.
- 1 sheet frozen puff pastry, thawed
- ½ cup cranberry sauce, preferably homemade
- 1 green onion, very thinly sliced
- 100g (3.5 oz) brie, cut into ½" cubes
- Preheat oven to 400F. Lightly spray the cups of a mini-muffin tin with cooking spray, and set aside.
- Unroll the puff pastry sheet onto a clean work surface, and cut into 24 equally-sized squares. Gently press the pastry into the cups of the prepared muffin tin.
- Nestle a cube of brie into each pastry cup, then top with a pinch of green onion. Using a teaspoon measure, drop a spoonful of cranberry sauce to top of the brie.
- Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, or until the pastry is puffed and golden-brown on the edges. Let stand in the pan for 5 minutes, then transfer to a pretty plate and serve.
If you're not a fan of cranberry sauce, you can substitute a fruity jam of your choice - tart cherry, apricot or fig are all perfectly lovely choices!
- Prep Time: 10 mins
- Cook Time: 10 mins
- Category: Appetiser
Don't forget to check out the rest of the Christmas treats by the Holiday Food Blog Party gang! Each photo is linked to a different post.