CRANBERRY-GLAZED BRIE

A perfect appetizer to a festive holiday dinner, this is a sensational coupling of contrasting tastes, colors and textures. Spread it on apple or pear slices or on crisp crackers.

12 servings

Cranberry marmalade

3 cups cranberries
3/4  cup firmly packed golden brown sugar
1/3  cup dried currants
1/3  cup water
1/8 teaspoon dry mustard
1/8 teaspoon ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon ground cardamom
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon ground ginger

Cheese

1 2.2-pound Brie cheese wheel (8-inch diameter)
Crackers
Apple slices
Pear slices

For marmalade: Combine all ingredients in heavy nonaluminum saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat until most of berries pop, stirring frequently, about 5 minutes. Cool to room temperature. (Can be prepared 3 days ahead. Cover and refrigerate.)

For cheese: Using sharp knife, cut circle in top rind of cheese, leaving ½-inch border of rind. Carefully remove center circle of rind from cheese. Do not cut through side rind. Place cheese in 8-inch-diameter ceramic baking dish or on cookie sheet lined with foil. Spread cranberry marmalade over. (Can be prepared 6 hours ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Bring cheese to room temperature before continuing.)

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.  Bake cheese until soft, about 12 minutes.

Set cheese on large platter.  Surround with crackers and fruit.  Coool slightly.  Serve warm or at room temperature.