How to make a kick ass cheese board for any occasion.
Let’s face it, it’s not a party unless there is a cheese board involved. Now there are simple cheese trays that one may put an the end of a buffet line that is easily forgotten or you can create a kick ass cheese board that can be so creative, imaginative and fun that it will have all your guests talking. A perfect centerpiece for your party. A conversation starter. Great with wine and dark chocolates!
Creating your kick ass cheese board can be simple but also expensive so Ask Yourself This before you go out to the store and empty your wallet.
Ask Yourself This:
- How many people are you serving?
- What is your budget?
- What are you going to incorporate on your cheese board?
- Simple: Cheese & Crackers
- What kind of cheese? How many wedges? How many sliced?
- Adding fruit?
- Dried or Fresh? Both? How many?
- Be sure you don’t add fruit that will brown easily or leak juice all over your beautifully arranged selection of cheeses.
- Adding Italian Meats?
- Nuts anyone?
If you are stumped on how to put a cheese board together look for ideas on Pinterest. If you want to use the one I made then go for it. Whatever works best for you.
I decided to do a cheese board for Thanksgiving this year and I am very pleased with the turnout. I was serving approximately twenty people so I knew my tray had to be relatively large especially when serving a group of Italians and the cheese board being the main appetizer.
I wanted this cheese board to have three qualities.
- Wide Selection
Since this was the only dish I was bringing to the table I decided not to worry too much about a budget but still I knew I wouldn’t be spending more than a hundred dollars. Yes, I said a hundred dollars and I know some of you might have your eyes bulging from your head at this point. Keep in mind when you go into a grocery store some of the most expensive items you will find are gourmet cheeses, fresh fruit, and quality nuts. If you add Italian meats to the mix a hundred dollars is easily spent.
Types of Cheese
- If you don’t like what I’ve chosen and you don’t know what you want to put on the tray I would suggest speaking to a Cheesemonger (Yes, that is really what they are called) and they will point you in the right direction.
- These cheeses are relatively cheaper in the stores compared to the Gourmet Cheese which is nice because you can get a couple of bricks to slice up and use as fillers.
- Cabot Hot Habanero
- This cheese is extremely intense and fiery hot so if you don’t plan on labeling your cheese make sure you point out to your guests a friendly fair warning for this particular cheese. It’s one of my favorites but you don’t want your grandma biting into this cheese without knowing how hot it actually is.
- Cabot Pepper Jack Cheese
- This cheese is less intense as the Hot Habanero but it still contains jalapeno picante peppers so it is spicy and a good idea to let your guests know that it is one of the hotter cheeses so they are prepared with a glass of ice water on hand.
Gourmet World Cheese
- These cheeses are relatively more expensive, whether you buy them in a market or grocery store the price will be about the same and can range anywhere between $5-$12 plus.
- Havarti (Semi-Soft & Creamy)
- Blue Cheese (Strong)
- Brie (Soft, Mild & Creamy)
- Goat Cheese (Creamy & Mild)
- Gorgonzola (Blue & Creamy)
- Mozzarella (Soft, Creamy & Delicious)
- Provolone (Semi-Hard & Sharp)
- Hard Salami
- Sopressata Salami
Once you’ve got your cheese & meats the rest is easy. Finding fruits and nuts for fillers.
Adding fruit both fresh and dried
- Dried Cranberries
- Dried Turkish Apricots
- Purchase 2, slice in half and you can easily serve 20 people
- Purple Grapes
The nice thing about this platter is that it was perfect for a dessert board as well.
Wine and Cheese
a match made in Heaven
Add Dark Chocolate
and you’ve got a Winning Trio!
- Dark Chocolate
- A variety of dark chocolate goes perfect with cheese and wine. I added three types.
- Dark Chocolate with Almonds & Sea Salt
- Dark Chocolate Raspberry
- Dark Chocolate Twilight Delight
- Coluccio Fig & Acacia Honey Jam
- Coluccio Pear & Acacia Honey Jam
- Crackers (at least 3-4 types)
- Rosemary to garnish your board
Wow, that’s a lot of stuff and I know it can seem a bit overwhelming but if you already know how you are going to design your board then putting it together will be a piece of cake. The hardest part may be finding the perfect board to fit all of your items. I had a large beautiful chocolate brown tray that was perfect in size. Below are a few Helpful Hints in putting your final masterpiece together.
- First, I washed the tray that I was planning on using. Then, I placed linen napkins down on the tray so that the food did not come in contact with the tray.
- Decide which cheese you want to slice an which cheese you want to keep in wedges.
- Place the wedged cheese down first, but not all in the same direction or in a straight line.
- Place your large fruits such as pomegranate and grapes down on the tray. (One pomegranate should be sliced and scooped so you can use the shell as a holder for your loose seeds while the other is only sliced)
- Next, add your sliced cheeses and nuts into small open areas.
- Then, add your meats (rolling your meats will add height to your board)
- Now, add your smaller fruits (Apricots, Clementines, Cranberries) into open areas.
- Lastly, garnish with Rosemary.
- As far as your jams go, keep them in their containers, take off the top and put out on a separate tray.
- Same goes for crackers, keep them on a tray separate from your board.
- Bread sticks will go in a vase to give height.
- The chocolate can be placed in bowls, separate by kind of chocolate.
At this point your tray should be full and finished.
If you have leftovers make an extra small tray and put it out. Trust me, people will eat it.
Other similar and smaller trays I’ve done.