Pistachio Crusted Camembert

Anyone who knows me knows that I absolutely idolize Jacques Pepin. For those of you who don’t know, Jacques Pepin was a dear friend of the famous James Beard and Julia Child. He is still alive and cooking at a ripe old age. I try to catch his shows on Sundays. He is an excellent chef, but welcomes newcomers and those of us with average kitchen skills to make a delicious meal.

I also love soft cheeses like brie, so when I found his recipe for Camembert, I rushed to the French Grocery to grab some of the stinky French cheese. This is a classy appetizer that takes very little effort. It’s no-bake!

  • 1/2 cup pistachio nuts
  • 1 Camembert cheese round (about 9 ounces)
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • Crackers, for serving
Note on the Ingredients: I buy my Camembert from French Grocery in downtown Phoenix (one of my favorite restaurants).  I’ve also seen it in grocery stores. Keep in mind it is highly unlikely any of these cheese will be made with raw, unpasteurized milk.

Instructions:

1) Process the nuts in a food processor until pulverized but not ground into a powder. I’d recommend pulsing, instead of just running the food processor.

2) Unwrap the cheese. Brush the top and sides of the cheese with the honey.

You can scrape off the outer crust, but I leave it on. It’s such a shame to remove the rind.

3)  Sprinkle a layer of nuts on top of the Camembert. Pat more nuts around the sides with the other hand, pressing lightly on the nuts so they stick.

4) Put the remaining nuts in the center of a serving platter and place the cheese on top.

5) Sprinkle the cranberries around the cheese and serve at room temperature, with crackers.

Final Thoughts: For some reason my soft cheeses never get very soft. Does anyone have any tricks for softening Brie or Camembert? In the US, these cheeses in their pure form (unpasteurized) are illegal. I’m sure Jacques Pepin manages to get his hands on the “real” stuff. Maybe I’m not leaving the cheese at room temperature for long enough.

I’d also like some recommendations on crackers if you guys have any! I tried butter crackers, Ritz crackers, and some sesame crackers. Ritz crackers seemed to work the best (probably due to the higher fat content), but they don’t quite seem classy enough to match this treat. Any suggestions?

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