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Tuesday, November 17, 2015

#HandcraftedEdibles2015: How to Set Up a Cheese Platter

My husband and I have been hosting open houses for his staff for over twenty years, and we've learned a thing or two about how to set up a cheese platter!  When we were younger, we used to pick out cheese by the most exotic sounding name in the deli, now we've learned to ask the advice of a cheese sommelier when we can. We've learned so much about cheese and their appropriate accompaniments by doing this.

There are lots of things to consider when creating a cheese platter.  Probably first and foremost is your budget.  Cheese platters can get pretty expensive if you aren't careful when selecting cheese.  Next, consider the number of people you are serving (that will determine the amount of cheese you need) and how you are serving it (as an appetizer or a dessert.)

Typically you can plan on 2-4 oz per person if you are serving it as an appetizer.  We consider it a heavy hors d'oveurs so have plenty on hand.  If you are serving it as a dessert, 1-2 oz per person is plenty.

Something else to conisder:  how many cheeses should I serve?  There are lots of thoughts about this.  Some say to serve one, fantastic cheese.  Make it a conversation piece.  Find something bold and unusual.  Traditionally 3-5 cheeses are excellent for an appetizer.  For dessert, one or two cheeses are appropriate.

When you choose your cheese, consider having cheese from the three major milks: cow, goat and sheep.  For dessert choose a triple creme cheese.  You can also theme your platter with cheese from your state, different regions of the USA or world, all one type of milk or all in the same family, such as 3-4 brie, bleus or cheddars.

Arranging the cheese is so important as your guests will be "eating" visually first.  No overcrowding the cheese.  Artfully arrange fruit and crackers within the cheese.  Use one knife per cheese so that guests don't have to wait for the knife.  Serve cheeses at room temperature.  I enjoy added a little label to each cheese with its name and a few adjectives describing it.  

Choose your sides to go with the cheese.  For an appetizer platter, consider walnuts, dried fruit or fresh fruit, spicy mustards, artichokes, carmelized onions and cured meats.  I will throw in a chutney or jam to balance the flavors.

For dessert platters, don't be afraid to use jams, honey, toasted nuts, dried cherries, pears, fresh fruit and slivers of good dark chocolate.  Use simple cookies as the crackers for the cheese.

Here are some of my favorite pairings:

Aged cheddar with pear chutney
Bleu cheese with honeycomb and crusty bread
Homemade pimento with Ritz crackers (really!)
Goat cheese with jalapeno peach jam

In an effort to make all of my holiday gifts this year, we are sharing recipes for hand-crafted edibles. Over the course of twelve weeks, we'll be sharing recipes that you can make at home to give to friends and loved ones. We hope you'll follow along for inspiration. You can find out more information, including the schedule: here.

This week, we are sharing recipes about one of my favorite holiday appetizers: the cheese tray.

Here's what we're posting this week...

Next week, check back for our recipes to inspire you to go nutty. Think spiced nuts, nutty fruitcake, or whatever floats your nutty boat! Don't forget to check out our #handcraftededibles pinterest board.
Next week, check back for our recipes to inspire you to go nutty. Think spiced nuts, nutty fruitcake, or whatever floats your nutty boat! Don't forget to check out our #handcraftededibles pinterest board.

Would you like to comment?

  1. Gorgeous tray! Perfect timing to share before the Holiday seasons - cheese trays are always such a special appetizer or dessert addition to any table.

  2. LOVE this. Yes, visual is SO key. Thanks, Terri.

  3. Beautiful! And super informative - thanks for the tips!


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