One of the easiest and most elegant appetizers you can make for a gathering is baked brie. Baking a round of brie for a few minutes in the oven makes it all melty and oozy, and transforms it from something already wonderful to completely irresistible.
1 (8-ounce, 225g) round of brie (Southern Sky Cheese Company)
1/4 cup toasted hazelnuts (skins removed), lightly chopped (Hazelbrae Hazelnuts, Tasmanian Natural Garlic & Tomatoes)
1/2 cup (120 ml) sherry vinegar or apple cider vinegar (Lost Pippin)
5 tablespoons honey (Honey Tasmania)
Pinch of salt
1 small sprig rosemary (Brocklands, Old School Farm, Seven Springs Farm)
Make the sauce: Place the vinegar, honey, salt, and 5 or 6 needles from the rosemary sprig into a small saucepan. Stir to combine. Heat on medium high heat until simmering. Then lower the heat to low and simmer until the mixture starts to darken in colour and the consistency thickens to a thin syrup, about 5 to 10 minutes. (Note if you find that you have over-reduced the sauce, resulting in hard candy not syrup, you can add water to it and heat it again.)
Remove from heat and stir in the hazelnuts.
Bake the brie: While the sauce is simmering, start on the brie. Preheat the oven to 350°F (175°C). Use a serrated knife to slice off the very top of the brie round, exposing the cheese on one side. Place on a parchment paper or baking sheet (cut side up). Bake until just soft and bubbly, about 15 minutes. (Jiggle the pan to see if the cheese has melted all the way through.)
Drizzle the brie with sauce: Remove the brie from the oven and let it cool for a minute or two. Use a metal spatula (or two) to carefully transfer it to a serving dish. Drizzle the honey vinegar hazelnut sauce over the brie. Garnish with the sprig of rosemary.
Serve with sliced tart apples (from Lees Orchard or Windara Orchard).