Elegant and sophisticated or playful and full of whimsy, a cheeseboard is the perfect option for just about any occasion, especially during the holiday season. But how do you create a cheese board that everyone will enjoy? And how much cheese do you need? And what is the difference between a cheeseboard and a charcutier? Learn everything you need to know about crafting a well-balanced cheeseboard or charcutier platter for the holiday season.
Start with the Board:
It may seem odd to start with the board. But knowing what board you will be using helps you plan how much cheese and other product to purchase. You want the board to look enticing with abundant cheese and nibbles, but not full to the point of looking chaotic. CLV by Cathy’s Concepts has a versatile collection of customizable cheese boards made from the finest natural materials. Only hosting a few friends? We suggest the Personalized Live Edge Mango Board. Hosting the whole family? The Personalized Slate Serving Tray with Metal Handles is a stylish selection that holds enough for a crowd. Since our cheese boards and serving trays are all customizable, they make ideal personalized holiday gifts. Offer to bring the cheese platter and leave the board as a gift for the hostess.
Select Your Cheeses
You no longer need to visit a specialty cheese shop to find great cheese. Many supermarkets now carry a wide variety of cheeses that would be ideal for a cheese board. For a classic cheese board that will be served to adults or a mixed crowd, four cheeses are typically recommended. Select a variety of cheeses that have different colors, textures, and milk content. The following are good examples:
- Soft: Brie or camembert
- Firm: Manchego or Parmigiano-Reggiano
- Blue: Stilton or Roquefort
- Familiar: Cheddar
Be sure to serve each cheese at the desired temperature. For most cheeses, this would be between 67 and 70 degrees, or room temperature. If you are using exotic cheese from a specialty shop, we recommend speaking directly to the cheese monger.
If you are creating a cheese board that will mainly be consumed by kids, we suggest using more approachable cheeses, such as colby, mild cheddar, and sliced mozzarella. If this is a holiday party, there are some fun examples of cheese platters in the shape of a turkey or Christmas tree that will delight kids!
How Much to Buy
Knowing how much cheese and other goodies to buy for your cheese board really comes down to two things: how many people will be served and is this an appetizer or the main event at a cocktail party? For an appetizer platter, estimating 2 oz. of cheese per person is a safe bet. If 10 people will be enjoying this cheese board, that equals 20 oz. or 1.25 lbs. If you plan on having 4 different cheese you will need approximately 3.5 oz. of each type of cheese. To play it safe round up to 4 oz. per type of cheese, as having extra is always a good plan.
Arrange with Accoutrements
Ahhhh, the accoutrements! What would a cheese platter be without all the fun, supporting players? Traditionally, most cheese boards include some type of cracker, a little fruit, and some nuts. You can let really let your imagination soar here. Think more interesting crackers than what you see on the aisle at the grocery store. Add sliced baguette or crostini. Fruit can go way beyond a bunch of grapes; try dried fruits and inventive jams or marmalades. You want your cheese board to offer different visual cues, including height and color, as well as various tastes and textures. Salty, sweet, crunchy, and slightly bitter should all be represented on your board.
Sliced or cubed cheese is the most accessible for guests. A more dramatic presentation, however, uses wedges of cheese surrounded by your various accoutrements. Be sure to include the proper utensils for serving and space on your board so guests can access each item. When you step back, your board should be visually appealing and balanced.
Cheese board vs. Charcutier
The cheese board has been a long-standing dish during the holidays, but more and more charcutier plates are popping up on menus and at parties. What exactly is the difference between a cheese board and charcutier? In short, a charcutier platter is meat’s answer to the cheese board. Usually a charcutier board will feature a variety of smoked and cured meats, such as prosciutto, soppressata, genoa salami, rillettes, or pate. Many charcutier boards are served with cheese and crackers or some other type of bread. In recent years, it has become more popular to load a board with various cheese, charcutier and a colorful assortment of accruements. Everything from cured olives and cornichon to smoked honey and stuffed peppadews. The correct terminology would be cheese and charcutier board and is a great way to delight guests or add an additional heartiness to your cheese platter.
Whether you decide to stick with a traditional cheese board or add various meats, nibbles during the holidays are always appreciated! Remember to know your guests, use your imagination, and have fun!