The following tutorial and photography was provided by recipe developer and food photographer, Ashley Durand of Plate & Pen.
Charcuterie boards…everyone loves them, and I am no exception to this holiday mood!
This year’s holiday festivities may be different than before, but that doesn’t mean we can’t enjoy a lovely stacked charcuterie board. If nothing else, it will give us a sense of normalcy and a selection of tasty treats to snack on during the day.
Making a gorgeous board worth grazing is not hard – just follow my simple tips below!
How to Build a Holiday Charcuterie Board
Pick a Theme
A general theme will be the foundation for the items on your board and the overall appearance.
Since I’m making this board during the holidays, I opted for a white and woodsy winter theme. Most decorations you can find at a craft store, but why make two trips for groceries and craft supplies when Heinen’s Floral Department has seasonal décor that greets you right when you walk in? It gets me every time!
To play into my white and woodsy winter theme, I chose a lazy Susan wheel tray and even used a large wooden cracked hazelnut/acorn for decoration inside the tray.
Plan the Layout Ahead of Time
Design is key. If you have too may or too few items, it shows! Not having enough to work with is my worst case scenario because I don’t like empty spaces on a charcuterie board.
You will need to estimate the amount of space that will be occupied by food based on the size of your tray or board. Since I knew that my board was circular and wide but had wall, I had to plan methodically.
If your board has no wall, you can have spillage and lay it out to where it still looks intentional, but full. Before I started filling the tray, I placed a layer of fresh, crisp cranberries on the board to create a nice level bed for the charcuterie display. It also provided some height by lifting the food.
Mix Up Your Selection
I chose fruit, cheese, chocolate and meat as the main food elements for my board. You can do 1, 2, 3 or more than those listed. Just be smart about it and add elements that pair well together.
When I laid this out, I made sure to mix up sweet and savory but also put individual clusters of cheeses, fruit and chocolate together.
Once I got started I could not stop! I continued by placing cheeses near crackers and meats since we all know that people love a good pairing.
Add a Dip, or Two
I don’t like to use too many dips on charcuterie boards because I believe it takes away from the featured ingredients. So, I usually only use one dip.
For this board, I chose a nice subtle walnut butter spread. It’s just sweet enough to compliment all of the items on the board and isn’t too overpowering. Jellies wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Or a beer mustard…just sayin’.
What Ingredients are on This Charcuterie Board?
I love sweet and savory, so I chose to feature meats, cheeses, fruit and chocolates on my winter board, but I encourage you to use whatever suits your taste.
For the meats, I used salami and herb-crusted turkey.
Cheese is my main love, so I added Wisconsin cheddar, aged Havarti, smoked gouda, a really funky blue cheese and cranberry white cheddar.
For sweets, I have brioche waffles, peppermint chocolate bark and chocolate covered almonds.
For a bit of crunch, I added sesame wheat crackers and rosemary sea salt cracker thins.
Lastly, for the fruit, I added strawberries, blackberries, figs and dates and finished it all off with an assortment of nuts and a simple sweet dip.
There you have it, folks! Creating a picture perfect charcuterie board is not just for the Instagram experts. Give it a try this holiday season and let your inner creativity soar!