Cranberry-Rosemary Sparkler with Baked Brie Bites


From Above: Cranberry-Rosemary Sparkler

What?!?!  It’s December 11th?  Already?   We are officially smack dab in the middle of the holiday season and it’s time for my annual tradition of re-writing my to-do list.

Right after Thanksgiving everything seems possible.  Knitted scarfs for everyone?  Sure, there’s time.  My to-do list reeks of good intentions although the amount of chicken-scratch that already covers its copious contents is clear evidence of its impending impossibility.


Does this stop me?  Goodness, no.  I’ve got Pinterest boards full of hot chocolate variations and do-it-yourself holiday decor ideas and my hopes for the season are high, high, high.  This, I tell myself, will be the best Christmas yet.

And then it’s mid-December and reality hits. Faced with the idea of not sleeping until Christmas Eve in order to get everything done, I come back to earth.

Brie with Almonds - Ready for the Oven

My list gets modified. Knitted scarfs, for everyone? Wait, what?!?! NO!  (Sorry, friends.)

Brie Bites with Minced Parsley

There’s still plenty of to-dos on this second list, but without having to build life-size reindeer replicas for my rooftop there’s a lot more time for enjoying this special time of year.

Cranberry-Rosemary Sparkler

If your plan to brew Christmas ale for family and friends is sounding a little too ambitious for this holiday season, here’s a recipe for an easy cranberry-rosemary sparkler that is delicious paired with baked brie bites.  Both make for very do-able additions to your revised holiday to-do list.  Happy cooking!

Cranberry-Rosemary Sparkler – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes 6 to 8 drinks

Be sure to use pure cranberry juice for this recipe. Using cranberry juice blended with other juices, like apple, makes this drink too sweet.

1 (750 ml) bottle Prosecco or sparkling wine
1 ½ cups pure cranberry juice
½ cup rosemary simple syrup (see recipe below)
For garnish: frozen cranberries, small rosemary sprigs

Whisk together the cranberry juice and rosemary simple syrup until combined. Fill a champagne flute 2/3s of the way full with Prosecco and splash with the cranberry – rosemary mixture. Garnish with 3 frozen cranberries and a small rosemary sprig. Serve immediately.

For an extra festive touch, rub leaves from one fresh sprig of rosemary into 3 tablespoons granulated sugar to infuse the sugar with the scent of rosemary.   Dip the rim of the flute into the simple syrup and then dip it into the infused sugar to lightly coat. Fill the glass as directed. 

Rosemary Simple Syrup
Makes a scant two cups

1 cup water
1 cup granulated sugar
4 large rosemary sprigs

Combine the sugar and water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Add the rosemary sprigs and then remove the saucepan from the heat. Let sit for fifteen minutes then strain the sprigs from the syrup and discard them. Reserve the simple syrup in a glass jar for up to one week in the refrigerator.


Baked Brie Bites with Parsley & Almonds

Baked Brie Bites with Parsley & Almonds – Printer Friendly Recipe
Makes 1 dozen bites

For as long as I can remember my mother has made baked brie with parsley and almonds for Christmas Eve. We devour it yearly. This recipe, made with mini-phyllo cups, is inspired by my family’s holiday tradition.

12 frozen mini-phyllo cups
4 ounces brie cheese
1 ½ tablespoons sliced almonds
1 tablespoon fresh minced flat leaf parsley

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a small baking sheet with parchment paper and place the phyllo-cups on top.

Use a small knife to cut the rind from the brie and discard it. Cut the remaining brie (should be about 3 ounces) into small cubes and place each cube in a phyllo cup. Scatter a few sliced almonds into each cup.

Bake the brie bites for about 10 to 12 minutes until the cheese melts.   Serve warm garnished with minced parsley.


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