One of the main reasons I went to culinary school is because I love parties. To me, a good party is dependent upon good food. I wanted to plan parties professionally, so I thought knowing about food was the best way to be a great party planner. After all my years catering events, I still stand by that logic which is why anytime I plan a party, whether it be for a personal event or for a client, I always start with the menu. As December 31st approaches and everyone gets ready to ring in the New Year, let’s just say I am thinking a lot about celebratory party food.
For home entertaining, party food should be easy to make ahead and simple to assemble for service so as a host you aren’t stressing about cooking and plating while your guests are there. I happen to love bite-size food, too. Miniature treats seem to have a special flare, making any occasion automatically feel extra-ordinary. When appetizers are small, it also alleviates the need for a plate and fork which makes mingling easier, not to mention clean up is also a whole lot easier. Finally, food that is beautiful always helps add to the celebratory feel of an event.
With all these qualities in mind, I introduce my brie and apple tartlets with apricot mustard. First, everything you see below can be prepped ahead of time. The pastry bag on the left is filled with whipped brie. Do this one or two days before your event. The apples are mixed with my current favorite sauce – apricot jam, whole grain mustard and rice wine vinegar. You can read more about this quick pantry sauce in my post for prosciutto-wrapped shrimp. This simple apple relish can also be made one day ahead.
As for the phyllo shells, well those couldn’t be any easier. Look for them in the freezer section. All you have to do is arrange them on a sheet pan about 1-2 hours before your party and bake for a quick 3-5 minutes to crisp them up. After you bake them, let them cool to room temp before filling. While they cool, take the brie out of the fridge and let that soften at room temp, too. Since this is just waiting time, you can spend your time doing something more important, like getting ready for the party!
After the shells have cooled, and shortly before you expect guests to arrive, start piping the whipped brie into each shell like so.
Then, top off with some of the apple mixture. I also like to finish with some chopped parsley or fresh pomegranate seeds for color, and a small pinch of a course salt. Maldon sea salt is perfect, if you have it. If not, a course kosher salt also works well.
Don’t they look fun and festive? The mustard seeds almost look like little jewels, all dressed up for the party!
What I really appreciate about these little hors d’Oeuvres is the fact that you can leave them on a sheet tray in the kitchen all dressed up. Then, over the course of your party, simply transfer them to your serving platter as needed. This is so simple any co-host or guest could help out if you get distracted by other hosting duties. These may seem really simple, but that’s the whole point! Food can be fun and festive without being so much effort that you can’t enjoy your own party. I hope you enjoy these tartlets and your party. And, of course, Happy New Year!
Cheese filled phyllo tarts get all dressed up for your next cocktail party.
1 small wedge or wheel of Brie cheese
15 phyllo tartlet shells
1 tablespoon apricot jam
1 teaspoon whole grain mustard
1 teaspoon rice wine vinegar
1/2 green apple
sprinkle of course salt, such as kosher or maldon sea salt
One day ahead:
Unwrap the brie and cut off the white rind. Cut the cheese into small cubes and let sit at room temperature for about 1 hour until soft.
In a small bowl, mix the apricot jam, grain mustard and splash of rice wine vinegar until smooth. Cut the green apple into a small dice and fold into the apricot mixture. Transfer to a food storage container, cover and refrigerate.
Place softened cheese into the bowl of an upright mixer. Use the paddle attachment to whip the brie into a smooth, soft consistency, stopping to scrape sides and paddle every so often.
Scoop whipped brie into a piping bag or a large food storage bag. Refrigerate.
About 2 hours prior to the party:
Remove tart shells from their packaging and arrange on a sheet tray.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Place tart shells in the preheated oven and bake for 3-4 minutes until crisp. Remove from oven and let cool.
Remove whipped brie from the fridge and let soften at room temp.
About 30 minutes – 1 hour before the party:
Cut off the end of the pastry bag and pipe about 1/2 teaspoon of brie into each cooled tart shell. Use a damp fingertip to press down the pointed tips of cheese that form.
Scoop about 1/2 teaspoon of the apple mixture on top of the brie. Finish with a small sprinkle of course salt such as maldon, if you have it. If you have parsley or pomegranate seeds, this also makes a nice additional garnish.