'Cheese courses are too often overlooked, which is a crime when you have [such good] camembert. Half the cheeses were split lengthways and layered with the earthy lushness of local truffles, while the others were drizzled with honey and thyme before being baked. Both lifted the already beautiful cheeses, but for me the oozing joy of the baked version was really hard to beat.'
Our conversation stopped as soon as the cheese platter was placed before us on the table and, behold, the baked Camembert topped with honey and thyme took centre stage. 'Who would like to cut it open?,' Tommy asked. 'Oh, please wait a moment so I can get my camera,' I replied. Seven or eight diners huddled closer, all eager to observe the occasion. Hilary took the knife and gently sliced into the warm round of cheese as I captured a shot. There was silence and then a gasp as the molten cheese began to flow, followed by oohs and ahs, and then much nodding in appreciation of the flavoursome offering.
It was the first time I had tasted baked Camembert and was a memorable event for me. I enjoy eating cheese now and then, but not as often as I might. Served in this way, however, I am likely to eat more of it, particularly if the Camembert is of good quality.
Wanting to make this for my Peter, I consulted my dear friend, chef Adam Moore, for his guidance on the baking time, and am delighted to share my recipe with you. It's a knockout party starter (perfect for festive entertaining) or post dinner cheese platter, and is so quick and simple to prepare. Source good quality cheese and honey, and use freshly picked thyme.
HONEY AND THYME BAKED CAMEMBERT
200g round of Camembert
a few sprigs of freshly picked thyme
2-3 tablespoons honey
Preheat oven to 190-200 degrees C. Place the Camembert into a shallow baking dish, such as a ramekin or the small ovenproof Corningware dish I have used here. Line the dish with a small round of baking paper to prevent the cheese from sticking (it will make it easier to remove for serving). Bake the cheese for only 15 to 20 mins, depending on the size of the Camembert.
Now there are two ways to add the honey. You can spoon the warmed honey and thyme infusion over the cheese prior to baking, or pour the warmed infusion over the Camembert as soon as you remove it from the oven have transferred the cheese to a serving plate. Note: Chef Adam Moore says: 'infuse the thyme leaves in the honey overnight for more flavour'. Serve immediately (whole) with Lavosh crackers and/or slices of baguette, and candied or spiced walnuts. And cut into it at the table, for a dramatic effect. Serves 6-8 as a party starter or post-dinner cheese plate.
Serve with Lavosh and/or slices of baguette and some candied walnuts
Pictured above is the original Tumba Hills baked honey and Small Cow Farm Camembert, which I sampled at the Appetite for Excellence 'Hunt and Gather' dinner in Canberra in August 2012, per Tommy's quote in the opening paragraph above. You'll see that I was perhaps a little heavy handed with the honey, but I must tell you, the combination of warm melted Camembert with the sweet thyme infused honey was totally divine!
With the party season in mind, you might also enjoy...
Tell me, have you tried baked Camembert, dear readers? What is your favourite cheese?
Cooking and writing have been a lifelong passion.
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- Liz Posmyk
NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.