Back in 2020, when everything was on zoom, I had a local mom, amazing entrepreneur and cheese board expert named Kaiy reach out to see if I'd like to join a virtual charcuterie workshop she was hosting for her company Stems. I excitedly said yes, and spent a few hours online learning some amazing tips and tricks to create something beautiful and delicious.
Since then, creating beautiful boards for events with friends and family has been one of my favorite hobbies - I love how versatile they are. Last week, we went to dinner with some new friends and we were in charge of bringing dessert. I quickly opted for a board, which would allow everyone to graze while chatting. Here are my personal tips for creating a dessert board.
Tip No. 1 Start with the cheese
Even a dessert board should have cheese. I like to have 3 cheese options per board - something soft, something firm, and something unexpected. For this board, I opted to use goat cheese, a vanilla cardamom cow's milk cheese, and some puff pastry pinwheels filled with goat cheese, cinnamon, and apricot preserves (recipe below!).
Tip No. 2 Choose your accompaniments
I like each cheese to have 1-2 items it can pair with, and I tend to go fruit heavy. For this board, I chose apples (firm enough to double as a "cracker"), raspberries, strawberries, and clementines. Every board needs a cracker river, and this one was filled with lemon wafers. Finally, I tucked some apricot preserves into the corner for dipping.
Tip No. 3 Always add chocolate
A dessert board just isn't a dessert board without some chocolate! My favorites are chocolate baton cookies, chocolate covered pretzels, and anything stuffed with salted caramel.
Now that we have all the pieces, it's time to make the board pretty. Start by placing your cheeses in opposite corners and arranging them in different ways - this is a great way to quickly differentiate between cheeses. Next, place a few fruits around the cheeses to create visual islands. Add your cracker river to the board. Finally, fill in caps with dips, chocolates, and an assortment of herbs or edible flowers. The idea is to leave no gaps. It should look, and feel, lavish.
That's it! You're done! Step back and briefly admire your work before digging in.
As I mentioned above, those little goat cheese puffs are so easy to make! Here's the recipe:
GOAT CHEESE AND APRICOT PUFFS
1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
- Thaw puff pastry according to directions on the package.
- Place on a piece of parchment paper and roll out to approximately 12 x 12 square.
- Spread a thin layer of apricot preserves over the puff pastry, leaving 1" around the edge.
- Crumble & sprinkle goat cheese across the top of the preserves. Sprinkle with cinnamon.
- Tightly roll the puff pastry into a log, keeping all the goodness inside. Place the rolled pastry into the freezer for ten minutes while preheating the oven to 400F.
- After ten minutes, remove the roll from the freezer and use a sharp knife to cut the roll into 10 rounds.
- Grease a muffin tin, and place each round into a cup.
- Bake for 20 min, or until puff pastry is golden brown.
- Remove, let cool, and drizzle with honey for serving.