Some of the characteristics of a classic American Chardonnay are vanilla, butter, and if it has been aged in oak, a toasty quality as well. Because Brie and Chardonnay typically go well together, I decided to deconstruct some of the elements in Chardonnay to create this hors d'oeuvre. The result is both sweet and savory and a great showcase for the buttery cheese. Note that it's easier to cut this type of cheese when it is cold. Bring to room temperature before serving.
- 1-1/2 cups water
- 1 cup Chardonnay
- 1/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons sugar
- 1 vanilla bean, split in half vertically
- 1 cup golden raisins
- 12 ounces Fromager d'Affinois cheese sliced into 24 pieces (or use any double-créme brie)
- 24 slices baguette cut 1/4 inch thick
- 4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted
1. In a medium saucepan, combine the water, wine, and sugar. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat until the sugar is dissolved. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for 5 minutes. Turn off the heat. Scrape the insides of the vanilla bean into the liquid and add the remaining bean. Add the raisins. Let steep uncovered for at least 1 hour at room temperature. Refrigerate overnight.
2. Drain the raisins, reserving the liquid. Discard the vanilla bean. Put the liquid back in the saucepan and bring to a boil. Reduce to about 1/3 cup, or until the syrup turns a deep golden color, 10 to 15 minutes. Watch carefully so the syrup doesn't burn. If it starts to foam, remove from heat immediately. The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools, and have a texture similar to light maple syrup. Cool completely.
3. Preheat the oven to 400 F.
4. Brush butter onto both sides of the bread slices. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool completely.
5. To assemble: Put a slice of cheese on each toast. Sprinkle with a few raisins and drizzle syrup over the top.
Note: If you have any raisins and syrup left over, combine them and refrigerate in an airtight container. They will keep for 2 weeks.