Working with phyllo is really easy once you get the hang of it. The bonus of phyllo appetizers is that they freeze well and can be baked while still frozen. This works out well for the organized party giver who likes to begin preparation a week or so before the party. We think of this dish as a sit-down appetizer with the sauce, or as a stand-up appetizer without it.
- 1 cup apricot nectar
- ¼ cup white rum
- ½ cup chopped natural (green) pistachios
- ½ cup (1 stick) plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted, divided
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- About 8 sheets phyllo pastry, thawed in the refrigerator for 12 hours if frozen
- 4 ounces Brie, cut into 8 square pieces
- 1/3 cup dried apricots, snipped into quarters with kitchen shears
- 4 teaspoons apricot preserves
Cook the apricot nectar and rum in a medium saucepan over medium heat until the mixture has reduced to ¼ cup. Remove from the heat and reserve.
Preheat the oven to 350°F.
Toss the pistachios with 2 tablespoons of the melted butter and the salt. Transfer the nuts to a baking sheet and lightly brown in the oven for about 5 minutes. Remove from the oven and let cool.
Increase the oven temperature to 425°F.
Remove the phyllo from the package, unroll it onto a work surface, and immediately cover it with a large sheet of plastic wrap. Cover the plastic wrap with a damp towel to weigh it down and keep the pastry from drying out. Cut 4 or 5 sheets of the pastry at a time into 5-inch squares, returning it under the plastic wrap quickly. You will need 32 of these squares.
Working quickly so that the phyllo doesn’t dry out, layout 8 squares of phyllo separately. Brush each with melted butter and place another sheet of phyllo on top of each, offsetting them so that each piece has 8 points. Repeat with the rest of the phyllo so that each piece has 4 buttered layers. Transfer the phyllo to 2 parchment-lined baking sheets.
Add a piece of Brie to the center of each phyllo stack. Top with a few pieces of dried apricot and a light scattering of the toasted pistachios, reserving about half for garnish. Add about ½ teaspoon of apricot preserves to the top of each. Gather the sides of the phyllo up to enclose the cheese mixture, and twist so that the package stays closed. Brush the outside of each package with butter and bake until browned and the cheese inside has melted, 15 to 20 minutes.
Reheat the reduced apricot nectar and drizzle it over 4 heated plates. Place 2 Brie packages on top of the sauce and garnish with a scattering of the remaining pistachios. Serve hot.
Variations: Substitute Gorgonzola for the Brie. dried figs for the apricots, toasted walnuts for the pistachios, and cider for the apricot nectar.