Are you looking for an easy yet gourmet appetizer for your gathering? An elegant cheese plate is an excellent way to wow your guests while not overwhelming yourself with preparation. A cheese plate can be assembled quickly and in advance. Filling your cheese plate with a few interesting and unique items will not only make this dish special but it can also be a great conversation starter. So consider assembling a gourmet cheese assortment for your next cocktail party or holiday dinner!
A great cheese plate is all about variety and simplicity. When choosing the following items, pick things that are contrasting in color, shape, and texture to create a stunning cheese plate. You don't need to have your cheese plate cluttered with twenty different things. Just choose a few delicious items and you will be set.
Cheese is king when it comes to a cheese plate. So start by picking out the cheeses you want to include. For an average sized gathering, usually three to five different types of cheeses is sufficient. When choosing your cheeses, go for variety in taste and texture. Parmesan is a hard, dry cheese while brie is a soft, almost spreadable cheese. Choose a range of strength as well. Pick out a cheese that's very strong like roquefort or limburger and challenge some of your guests to give it a try. But always have a milder option available too like havarti. And you can always include a classic cheese like cheddar or provolone for those who like to stick with what they know. Variety in taste and texture turns your cheese plate into a fun activity!
Surprisingly, cheese is not the only thing you want to include on a cheese plate. Once you've chosen your cheeses, you'll want to dress up your plate with fruit, bread, jams, and something sweet.
When shopping at your local market, find some fruit that looks fresh or that you know is in season. You'll want to avoid fruits like peaches or apples that would need to be cut up. Peaches will leak their juices all over the board and apples will turn brown from sitting out. But grapes and strawberries are perfect for a cheese plate. They are fruits that can be picked up and eaten in one or two bites.
Next pick some sort of bread to have on your plate. A baguette sliced thinly works great or thin hard bread sticks can add an interesting touch. Avoid thick or fluffy breads as that will bring down the delicateness of your cheese plate. If you choose to use crackers on your cheese plate, consider buying something unique like an artisanal cracker with nuts or seeds. Pair your bread or crackers with some fruity jam. This is a great opportunity to show off some homemade jam that you made or to purchase something unique from your local farmers market. Be sure to place a little knife with your jam so that your guests can spread the jam on the bread or cheese. Another interesting item you can use along with your jam is some honey. Some cheeses are delicious when dipped in honey. I would recommend finding some local or organic honey to make it extra special.
And then the last thing you want to add to your cheese board is a little something sweet. Sprinkle on a few dried apricots, dates, dried cranberries, or even some little dark chocolate candies. Make sure to keep these sparse and just use them as an accent. These little sweet nuggets will add that elegant touch that will elevate your plate above the average cheese plate.
Let's take a moment to consider the utensils you'll need for you cheese plate. Although using a plate seems obvious, you can also use a wooden cutting board which gives a rustic look. Be sure to cut some of your cheese ahead of time but also leave a knife by each block of cheese so that more can be cut off as needed. It is also essential to label your cheeses. After you've put lots of thought into which cheeses to purchase, take the time to add a little label so your guests know which cheese they're diving in to. Another special touch is to lay out a piece of paper with information about each cheese. For instance, if a particular cheese was aged for three months in a cave in southern Italy, your guests may be interested to know that!
Remember, variety is key. When you purchase the right things for your cheese plate, assembly is easy. And when you have an elegant cheese plate that looks inviting, your guests will not be able to resist jumping in and trying one of your unique items!