Twenty-four hours before your party: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spread baguette slices on two baking sheets and brush tops lightly with olive oil. Stagger...

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Serves 12 generously

– 1 long baguette, sliced on diagonal in ¼-inch thick slices

– 1 to 2 tablespoons olive oil

– ¼ cup shelled and chopped natural pistachios

– 1 whole ripe brie-type cheese (such as Coulommiers), about 1½ pounds

– 1/3 cup dried cranberries

1.
Twenty-four hours before your party:
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Spread baguette slices on two baking sheets and brush tops lightly with olive oil. Stagger sheets on oven racks and bake 5 minutes. Rotate baking sheets and continue baking 5 to 7 minutes or until golden. Cool and put croutons in tins or food-grade, zip-top bags.

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2.
Shell and chop the pistachios. Cover and set aside until ready to use.


3. The day of the party:
Slice the bloomy rind from the top of the cheese and discard. Place cheese in a small baking dish. Combine pistachios and dried cranberries. Pat gently into the top of the cheese. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate. Remove from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking.


4.
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Discard plastic wrap and bake cheese about 15 minutes. The center of the cheese will still be a little firm but the remaining will be soft and warm. Remove from oven and let set a minute, then transfer to a large, round serving platter with a wide spatula. Surround with croutons and serve.

From “Christmas Family Gatherings” by Donata Maggipinto.