Brie Toast with Chardonnay Soaked Golden Raisins

This one was made for me by a most amazing hostess (who is also a gourmet chef by night).  Props go out to Laura Werlin’s Cheese Essentials (available at any bookstore).  And no, Laura Werlin was not the hostess who made these for me.  If you like this recipe, though, grab a copy of the book.  You will be glad you did.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 cups water
1 cup Chardonnay ( I use La Ferme Julien – Cotes du Luberon available at Trader Joe’s)
1/4 cup plus 2 tbsp sugar
1 vanilla bean, split in half vertically
1 cup golden raisins
12 ounces Fromager d’Affinois cheese sliced into 24 pieces (or any double-creme brie)
24 slices baguette cut 1/4 inch thick
4 tbsp (1/2 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Directions:
In a medium-size 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.

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 (as a fire might start).  The syrup will continue to thicken as it cools, and have a texture similar to light maple syrup.  Cool completely.

Preheat the oven to 400 F.

Brush butter onto both sides of the bread slices.  Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until golden brown.  Let cool completely.

To assemble:
Put a slice of cheese on each toast.  Sprinkle with a few raisins and drizzle syrup over the top.

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