Ladies and gentleman we are getting ready for Thanksgiving! It’s not even Halloween yet but I am in full on pumpkin recipe mode thanks to my good friend’s Iron Chef Halloween party this weekend. What is an iron chef party you ask? It’s when selected guests each compete against each other to make the best dish in a limited amount of time time while other guests judge the best appetizer, side, dessert and so on. This year I was selected for the appetizer category and the secret ingredient was squash. My contribution was this yummy baked brie with a sweet, spiced pumpkin puree and walnuts. It has my own blend of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, allspice and cloves which combines with the brown sugar to make a filling that tastes like a cross between pumpkin pie and pecan pie which beautifully complements the rich, savory cheese.
This easy, sweet appetizer is perfect for large groups and since its made with creamy Brie cheese, brown sugar and spiced pumpkin it’s a sure fire crowd pleaser.
But, wait…brown sugar! How can that be low carb? There are a several ways to make this low sugar. One, you can use a white, granulated sweetener like Zsweet or Splenda in place of the brown sugar; this will sweeten the pumpkin mix but it may lack some of the brown sugar flavor. Two, you can use a white, granulated sweetener as above but also add 1 teaspoon of blackstrap molasses (readily available at your local grocery store) along with each cup of the white, granulated sugar substitute. This will give you all the flavor of brown sugar with much fewer carbs. Three, you can use white, granulated sweetener and add one tablespoon of Torani Sugar Free Brown Sugar Cinnamon Syrup along with each cup of white, granulate sweetener; this will give you a slightly more liquid consistency. Four, you could use a brown sugar substitute like Ideal Brown No Calorie Sweetener or Splenda Brown Sugar Blend. Given that the remaining ingredients are walnuts, cheese and pumpkin, which are all low carb, this is a great gluten free, low carb Thanksgiving treat that can be enjoyed as an appetizer or as a dessert. Since I like mine sweet, I added a good amount of sugar but if you want to make this as a more savory appetizer you can simply cut back on the sweetener.
Taste the levels of sugar and spice as you go and adjust according to your own preferences.
I definitely recommend getting a pretty baking dish like this La Creuset 2-quart baking round that I used. While it’s not necessary, it’s handy to be able to bake the Brie and serve it all in one festive looking dish. It also makes clean up easy. This also makes it a great recipe for a group of people because all your do is set out the dish and people can serve themselves. You don’t need to make a million tiny canapés. To go with all this sweet, cheesy goodness have some low carb crackers or crostini handy. I have found that if I make a loaf of my low carb flax bread and cut it up into small pieces, then brush the pieces with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes, then I have perfect low carb crostini that go great with this dip. As soon as I get a good picture of my crostini I will post it as a full recipe. In the meantime, enjoy this tasty treat!
- 2 quart oven safe baking dish (7" round or 8"x8" square would work)
- 2 cups pureed pumpkin
- 2 cups light brown sugar or brown sugar substitute (see blog post for ideas)
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon nutmeg
- ½ teaspoon ground ginger
- ¼ teaspoon allspice
- ¼ teaspoon cloves
- 1 cup chopped walnuts
- 1 large round of Brie (or enough wedges that you cut up to cover the bottom of your pan and create a second layer...I used four wedges sliced in half for a 2 quart baking dish)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Slice the Brie round in half, horizontally, so you have two round slices of Brie (like you’re splitting a layer in a layer cake.
- Place one layer of Brie rind side down into the oven safe baking dish.
- Combine sugar, pumpkin, cinnamon and nutmeg in a bowl until fully incorporated.
- Spread half of the pumpkin mixture on top of one half of the Brie.
- Sprinkle half of the walnuts on the pumpkin mixture.
- Top with the second half of Brie; again, place it rind side down so that the cheese faces upwards.
- Spread the remaining pumpkin mixture over the second half of Brie.
- Cover with the remaining chopped walnuts.
- Bake in preheated oven for 5-10 minutes until warmed through and cheese is gooey.
- Serve alongside low carb crostini or crackers.