When I think of a creamy, irresistible cheese, I think of Brie. It’s an incredibly versatile, soft cow’s milk cheese from France with a mild, subtly nutty or mushroom-y flavor. It can hold its own as a smooth, buttery wedge on a cheese plate, can be gently melted into luscious cheese sauces, can be tucked between two slices of bread, or can be wrapped up into a blanket of puff pastry and baked for an ooey-gooey dinner party appetizer.
Brie's mild flavor complements both sweet and savory pairings, and it’s a great “gateway” cheese for people who tend to shy away from strong or funky cheeses. Whether you’re familiar with this cheese or not, here’s what you need to know to eat Brie like the French.
Can You Eat the Rind?
This biggest question when it comes to Brie is whether or not the rind is edible. The answer? It is, and it’s delicious. Brie is a soft-ripened cheese and that rind is a white mold known as penicillium candidum. It not only alters the texture and mouthfeel as you eat Brie, but it actually holds quite a bit of the flavor that makes Brie such a wonderful cheese.
If you don’t like the Brie rind, you can slice it off. But, it's not what the French would do.
Why the Temperature of Brie is Key
As with most cheeses, Brie is best eaten at or around room temperature. This way, the aromas are their finest and you’ll be able to taste all the intricacies the cheese has to offer. Of course, you can choose to eat Brie straight from the fridge, but let me tell you, it’s just not doing that cheese justice. It tastes like nothing and has a rubbery consistency—definitely not worth it, so please don’t do this.
The easiest way to “prep” Brie for eating is simply to let it sit on the counter for at least an hour. The cheese should be creamy and ever so slightly bouncy if it’s ripened properly. If the cheese is firm all the way through, it might need more time to ripen.
If your Brie is super runny at room temperature, it’s most likely overripe. If it’s runny and smells like ammonia, it’s gone bad and needs to be tossed.
If you want your Brie to have slightly gooey center for spreading, you can heat it gently in a 350°F oven for about 5 minutes or microwave on high for 1 minute. This isn’t a traditional way of eating Brie, but it’s delicious none the less.
The One Brie Faux Pas You Must Not Make
Last but not least, there’s one more parting tip that you need to know before making Brie a part of your life, and that is not to slice the tip off of a wedge of Brie. Brie should always be eaten in small wedges or lengthwise slices. The center of the Brie is known to be the tastiest part, so slicing off the tip of a wedge is, like, one of the rudest cheese eating moves you could make.
If you buy your Brie in wedges already, serve it by slicing it into thiner wedges lengthwise. If you buy your Brie in rounds, slice it in half, then cut each half into small wedges for eating.