I love a good cheese platter and it is often my go to when entertaining but truth be told, I’m a little bored with it.  I found a recipe in a Gourmet Traveller magazine for a warm Fennel & Ash Brie dip and just knew I had to try it.  To make it more festive and actually less work, I had a light bulb moment and decided this would be perfect in a cob loaf.  Oozy, creamy & molten Fennel & Ash Brie, flavoured with garlic, thyme, lemon & chilli and scooped up with crunchy chunks of good sourdough.  Stop it.

Prep time:  15 Minutes

Cooking time:  30 Minutes

$$  Medium Budget

Serves a party!

For the Fennel & Ash Brie Dip:

1 large Sourdough cob loaf

2 x 200gm wheels of ash brie, halved and sliced

2 tbs of extra virgin olive oil

1 brown onion, peeled and thinly sliced

1 fennel bulb, hard core removed and thinly sliced (I find it easier to quarter the bulb and then slice the core out)

2 cloves of garlic, sliced

8 thyme sprigs, leaves removed and stalks discarded

1 cup of freshly grated parmesan

1/2 cup of grated mozzarella

Grated rind of 1 lemon

1/2 tsp of chilli flakes

Sea salt & cracked pepper

Preheat the oven to 180°C

Baby herbs, fennel fronds or dill sprigs to serve

Heat a large frypan and add the oil.  Fry the onion, fennel slices, thyme leaves and garlic for about 15 minutes on a medium heat until really soft and caramelised.  Once softened, place it in a food processor and blitz until you have a fine paste.

Place the slices of brie, 2/3rds of the parmesan, fennel paste, lemon rind and chilli flakes in a large bowl, season with salt & pepper and use a spatula to mix it all together.

Slice the top of the cob loaf with your knife horizontal and pull the middle out.  Cut the bread from the centre into chunks and place the cob loaf & top of the cob, with the chunks of bread around it on a lined baking tray, then spoon the fennel & ash brie mixture into the centre.  Top with the remaining parmesan and the grated mozzarella and bake in the oven for around 30 minutes or until golden and bubbling.  If the bread around the cob cooks quicker and is golden brown, remove it and set aside until ready to serve.  It is actually easier to scoop when the bread is toasted and cooler.

Remove the cob from the oven and allow to rest for 5 minutes before serving.  Place a nice pile of herbs on top and arrange the bread chunks around the cob with the lid on top but to one side, so you can see the dip in the centre.

Love a cob dip?  You might like this one…..