For holiday entertaining, a cheese platter is practically a requirement. Easy to assemble and always a crowd-pleaser, a carefully chosen variety of cheeses and accompanying fruits, nuts or charcuterie provides a stylish and memorable appetizer without spending too long in the kitchen.
Hosting an event this yuletide season? Try these tips for assembling the perfect cheese board for the holidays.
Provide a variety of cheese with contrasting flavors and textures to suit different palates. Consider a sharp cheese like cheddar or gouda, a creamy cheese like brie, something pungent like blue cheese and something fresh like mozzarella or chevre. A trip to a cheese shop will ensure good recommendations, but you should be able to find everything you need in better grocery stores. Three to five different cheese are plenty for most gatherings.
Fill out the board with flavors that pair well with cheese. Almonds, figs, jam, olives, grapes and other fruit as well as charcuterie are all good choices. You may look for profiles that seem to “go together” or play up contrasting flavors. There aren’t strict rules, but you can consult the web or your cheesemonger for suggestions.
How much cheese you provide may vary by the size of the guest list and the other appetizers provided. One to two ounces of cheese per guest is a good starting point.
A selection of crackers or bread should be available. Include slices of baguette, water crackers and a heartier cracker will cover the bases.
Cheese is best served at room temperature. Remove your platter from the refrigerator 30-60 minutes before the party for best results.
Presentation matters. Arrange cheeses on a cutting board, stone slab or large platter separated by fruits, nuts, charcuterie or crackers. We embraced the season with an easy Christmas tree by arranging two straight edges into an open triangle on our board. Once cheese and other board essentials were in place, we used rosemary as a subtle garland and decorated the tree with cherry tomato “ornaments”. Topping the tree with a slice of starfruit, our holiday cheese board is complete.
A feast for the eyes as well as the palate, a well-planned cheese platter can be the perfect centerpiece for holiday gatherings.