By “panini,” as you’ll see from the photo below, I mean the American usage (any toasted or grilled sandwich) rather than the Italian original (referring specifically to a small bread roll, the panino). (At least if you believe what Wikipedia has to say, which, of course, I do.) And by “grilled brie and apple panini” I mean sweet and salty, gooey and crisp, crunchy, savory, wow, that’s good. Go ahead, have another. They’re tiny.You could make this sandwich full-sized, of course–a local cafe makes them on their excellent croissants and oh, boy–but I love the idea of making a tray full of these for a party. You could assemble them in advance and wedge them all onto a griddle or into a couple of big pans, serving them hot with a glass of champagne as guests arrive. (Note that I’m saying that “you” could, not that “I” could, since it’s usually all I can do to put out a bowl of olives and wash the magic marker off the baby’s face when we have people over. But I know that you are not like me, and I admire you for it.)
Or, what the heck, do as I did and make a few of these for dinner to use up a little nubbin of brie that’s left over in the cheese bin. Serve with a crisp green salad, of course.
Tiny Grilled Brie and Apple Panini: Slice a baguette crosswise into very thin slices. Spread each slice thinly with butter. Cut thin slices of brie and even thinner slices of a sweet, crisp apple. Heat a griddle or wide pan over medium heat, then build your sandwiches right on the pan (unless you’re making a lot of them, in which case I’d prepare them in advance and keep them on waxed paper). Place a baguette round butter-side-down on the pan, then a slice of brie, then a few slices of apple, then the top piece of bread butter-side-up. Cook until the underside is golden, then use a thin spatula and/or tongs to flip and cook the second side. If your cheese is not as melted as you’d like when the bread is nice and toasty, return to the first side for a minute until the cheese reaches oozy perfection.
If you assembled the sandwiches in advance, I still recommend cooking them with the cheese layer closest to the grill first, so that when you flip them the apple joins the bread in supporting the now-softened cheese. This will let you use even a good baguette with a nice open crumb structure. Once both sides are golden, you can flip the sandwich cheese side down for a moment to let some of the cheese seep through and brown if you’d like.