How to craft the ultimate cheese board

Burcu Başaran

Elevate your gatherings to a visual and gastronomic delight with an exquisite cheese platter by unraveling the art of its creation through this guide

Imagine a scene: a delightful breakfast spread or a tempting afternoon nibble, and at the heart of it all, a star that steals the show – cheese.

Whether it’s the enchanting local varieties or the exotic ones presented on a rustic, elegant platter, cheese has a way of awakening our senses and beckoning our appetites. As an orchestra of diverse cheeses mingles with charcuterie companions and complementary flavors, tea and coffee moments transform into a symphony of pleasure. This is where the art of crafting cheese platters comes into play, adding a touch of sophistication to both grand gatherings and intimate tete-a-tetes.

Cheese and fruit platters. (Photo by Burcu Başaran)
Cheese and fruit platters. (Photo by Burcu Başaran)

A journey of flavors, an adventure in taste, all beautifully arranged on a canvas of culinary artistry. A celebration of cheeses that intrigues and delights. Perfect for holidays, ladies’ nights, or everyday entertaining, charcuterie boards are a fun, versatile, delicious addition to any gathering!

Curious about crafting the ideal cheese board? It’s surprisingly simple! Discover the step-by-step process of creating a cheese board with this comprehensive guide.

The secret lies in combining an array of sweet and tangy elements. The reality is that everyone has unique cheese preferences – some prefer savory, some lean toward sweet, and many enjoy a blend of both. Exceptional cheese boards cater to all tastes.

Incorporate diverse textures. Given that eating engages multiple senses, incorporating a mix of textures enhances the appeal of any cheese board. Include ingredients with various textures, from creamy and crunchy to crumbly, gooey and crisp.

Simplicity or elegance: Choice is yours

Start with the board. Cheese boards are commonly arranged on wooden or slate platters, which can come in various shapes like square, rectangular or circular. If you lack one, there’s no need to buy it; plates, cutting boards or even baking sheets can work too.

Next, decide whether your cheese board will be fancy or simple. If you want to keep your cheese board simple, acquire cheese and meats. Pair it with crackers, bread and nuts. Top it off with any available fruits.

For a more elaborate display, stick to the essentials and add some special touches. Elevate your board with items like a honeycomb, cranberry sauce and premium olives.

If you wish to craft a meticulous breakfast cheese platter, it is recommended to be discerning in your cheese selection, as it is the most important meal of the day. When preparing a cheese presentation for snacking between meals, you can use cheese and complementary foods in a balanced manner.

Which cheeses should you include?

Now, the cheese selection. It’s important to steer clear of cheeses that release excess moisture or are overly soft if you can. Cheeses with high moisture content can affect the flavors of other items and might not look visually appealing on the platter.

Opt for diversity in flavors and textures by choosing cheeses from different categories. To achieve this, a valuable principle is to encompass cheeses that represent a wide spectrum of classifications. A few key classifications include:

Cheese and fruit platters. (Photo by Burcu Başaran)
Cheese and fruit platters. (Photo by Burcu Başaran)

– Aged: Aged Cheddar, Gruyere, Gouda.

– Soft: Brie, Camembert, Goat.

– Firm: Manchego, Parmigiano-Reggiano, Edam.

– Blue: Gorgonzola, Roquefort, Stilton.

– Soft: Brie, Camembert, Chevre.

– Semi-soft: Fontina, Muenster or Gouda.

– Semi-firm: Manchego, Gruyere or Comte.

– Firm: An aged cheddar or a quality Parmigiano-Reggiano can be wonderfully flavorful. And for an exceptional pairing, consider the delicious combination of Parm with gourmet honey.

If you want to prepare your cheese board with Turkish cheese varieties, the best options are kasseri cheese, referred to as “kaşar” in Turkish, smoked cheese, Izmir tulum cheese (a sort of cheese that stands between ezine beyaz peyniri and eski kaşar), Van otlu (herb) cheese, çeçil cheese, plaited Turkish cheese (örgü peyniri) and Mihaliç cheese. These are the most commonly used cheese types for platters in Türkiye.

Opting for several different types of cheese will enhance both the flavor and the visual appeal. Cut the chosen cheeses into squares or rectangles of your desired thickness. When cutting the cheese, take care to ensure uniform sizes and proportions. A well-arranged presentation platter is essential for visual aesthetics. Therefore, cheeses that are cut with the same precision and arranged thoughtfully are crucial for this purpose.

Goat meat?

A cheese-only platter might come across as modest. Complement the cheese with delightful charcuterie products or various fruits to create a more lavish display. When selecting charcuterie, opt for options that are typically enjoyed cold.

Choices like smoked meat slices, pastrami and roast beef can elevate the platter’s visual appeal and taste. Don’t forget to include cured meats like prosciutto, salami, soppressata, chorizo or mortadella – all of which are excellent choices.

After arranging the sliced cheeses and charcuterie on the serving board, add a touch of sweetness by embracing seasonal and dried fruits like grapes, green apples, strawberries, kiwis, cherry tomatoes and dried apricots. You can also include candied nuts, preserves, honey, cranberry sauce, pesto sauce, chutney or even chocolate.

For savory elements, consider including olives, pickles, roasted peppers, artichokes, tapenades, almonds, cashews or zesty mustards. If you prefer, you can place olives in small dishes and position them in the center of the serving board.

When assembling a cheese board, including crusty bread is almost essential. Slice it and present it alongside crackers. While our typical combination consists of a buttery cracker, a delicate mild cracker and a textured, seed-filled cracker, think about adding sliced baguette and breadsticks as well. This will surely enhance the experience.

Using the gaps between items to place nuts, crackers and breadsticks can be a creative touch. If you wish, you can cut the bread into small square pieces and prepare delicious canapés from them. You can spread cream cheese on the cut bread pieces, then spread olive paste on top of the cream cheese and add salami or sausage. You can also sprinkle a small amount of salt and sesame seeds on top, then close the small bread pieces again and secure them with toothpicks to create small canapes. This way, you can make your cheese platter visually more appealing and diverse in terms of flavors.

Conclude with garnishes

And now, let’s dive into the most delightful phase: the art of adornment. The embellishments on the surface also serve as another avenue to amplify the platter’s irresistible allure. With a touch of creativity, you can elevate your platter’s visual splendor by adorning it with crushed walnuts, sprigs of fresh thyme, fragrant rosemary or the delicate charm of sesame seeds. It’s all about crafting a captivating feast for the eyes and the palate.

Enhance the appearance and atmosphere of your board by adding edible flowers, aromatic herbs or extra fruits, allowing you to create the desired look and ambiance. This approach wonderfully imparts a seasonal essence to your cheese board.

So, as you embark on your cheese-platter adventure, remember that these crafted symphonies win palates and hearts. Each cheese, a character; each platter, a story. And as you embark on this gastronomic journey, may your cheese platter bring joy, spark conversations and create unforgettable moments. Cheers to the art of cheese and the magic it brings to every bite!

Courtesy: Dailysabah