This shop sharing my tutorial on how to create a cheese platter has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #InspireWithCheese #CollectiveBias
With the holidays approaching, I know I’m not the only one entertaining. My favorite event is my annual cookie swap. For this, I do a variety of appetizers to go with the desserts my friends and I share. It’s a ton of fun, and I like putting together something unique. Figuring out how to create a cheese platter is my crowning achievement for this year’s cookie swap.
How to create a cheese platter that works can be a challenge. Honestly, when I started, all I wanted to do was to go out and buy all the cheeses. I started out with about fifteen of them in my cart at Mariano’s before I could stop myself, but that isn’t how to create a cheese platter. Yes, you want cheese, but you don’t want too much cheese. And you don’t want only cheese.
I sadly put back almost all the cheese I had in my cart and thought carefully about what I wanted. Slowly, I added back a variety of cheeses that wouldn’t be overwhelming and added other elements that in the end, I think, turned out just perfectly.
It’s easy to grab all your favorites, but a cheese platter should include a variety of cheeses – and other complementary items. In the end, I chose four cheeses, which is plenty for my gathering. I also picked up a couple meats, some fruit, and a compote, in addition to crackers. But I’m getting ahead of myself…
How to Create a Cheese Platter
Choose a variety of cheeses – but not too many.
On your cheese platter, you want different tastes and textures. You want different looks for visual appeal, as well. Don’t choose all chunks of cheese, which is the easy way out. Instead, pick up some cheese logs, make a cheese ball, include chunks of cheese. Include soft and hard cheeses, as well as something that spreads easily. If they’re all the same, it isn’t as interesting for the palate. The variety helps keep your friends coming back for more.
For mine, I picked up a Kaukauna® Cheese Ball, a goat Gouda chunk, a wedge of Asiago, and a Kaukauna® Spreadable Cheese Cup. The Kaukauna® products are made with 100% real cheddar and come in a variety of forms. While I chose these two flavors, they come in many others, depending on your personal preference and what other cheeses you add to your platter. Port Wine or Sharp Cheddar? Yes, please! They also have logs, which would be another great addition to your cheese plate. I chose the Kaukauna® Asiago Cheese Ball rolled in almonds and the Kaukauna® Garden Vegetable Spreadable Cheese Cup. That gave me a great range in tastes and textures. I almost picked up the Kaukauna® Sharp Cheddar Cheese Ball. Or the Sriracha. Or Smoky Bacon. So many options – and yes, there’s a Kaukauna® Port Wine Cheese Ball, too.
Find good complements for your cheeses.
I love cured meat with my cheeses. The flavors complement each other perfectly. When you look at how to create a cheese platter, again you don’t want to have too many different options, but two different cured meats works nicely with the four cheeses. I used a hard salami, knowing most people are salami fans. I also picked up some prosciutto, knowing this would go especially well with the Asiago and goat Gouda.
Pro tip: I always get my prosciutto from the deli. I know it’s fresh and soft, which makes it easier to eat. When you order, always make sure the deli counter adds a second layer of plastic atop the sliced prosciutto before placing it in your bag. Prosciutto – because it’s so thinly sliced – wants to stick, and if you don’t have this protection, it’s easy for them to rip as you try to set up your cheese platter.
Add some fruit.
Personally, I like a mix of dried and fresh fruit. This time, I chose green grapes and dried cherries. Again, they have a mix of flavors and textures that will keep my friends coming back to my cheese platter. Sliced fresh figs work great, as do other dried fruits like apricots or even mango. It’s all about what you choose and find. Don’t use more than two or three, and keep your cheeses in mind as you select them.
If you have fruits that are hard to eat, make it easy on your guests. Instead of putting out a huge bunch of grapes, I use scissors to snip the bunch into smaller bunches of 3-5 grapes. No one has to wrestle grapes off the cheese platter, potentially making a mess or spilling the whole plate – or worse, not taking grapes at all because it’s too much of a challenge. Slice larger fruits like apples or figs just before guests arrive so they’re as fresh as possible.
Another fun complement is a compote. Choose your favorite fruit and add it to your cheese platter. You can easily make your own or pick up a jar. The sweetness and sugar of the compote creates a great profile to pair with your cheeses beyond the actual fruit you include on the platter.
Don’t forget about the “utensils”
The fun of appetizers is that they tend to be finger foods. And the beauty is fewer dishes to wash at the end of the night for you. That said, you need a vehicle to get the items from your beautiful cheese platter from plate to mouth. Crackers are great for this, as bread tends to be too soft and just…not a great fit. Pick up a variety of crackers, again looking at shape and texture and even taste. Bread sticks are fun to include, too, though I find them harder to use to eat so don’t always have them on my cheese plate.
How to Prep Your Cheese Platter
Don’t wait until the last minute
Yes, we store cheese in the fridge, but it’s a fermented food and can sit out for awhile. Get your cheeses out of the fridge at least an hour before guests arrive so that they have a chance to get to warm up and allow their true flavors to develop more. This means removing them from their plastic packaging, too!
Let your guests mix the flavors
If you put your cheeses and meats and fruits and crackers too close together, you end up with a mishmash. Trying to cut cheeses or remove some of the fruit becomes a challenge for guests. The cheeses mix together, which means guests don’t experience each individual flavor. They all taste like each other.
When you look at how to create a cheese platter, it may not be a single platter. You may choose to have multiple platters. I always place my crackers on a separate board or bowl to make it easier for guests. Sometimes I’ll add some cheeses to one platter and other cheeses on another, with the complementary items dispersed around them. Other times, I’ll add my cheeses all to one platter – spread out – and the fruits and meats on a platter near them but not on them. Space is key.
It’s tempting to make your cheeses even prettier by pouring the compote over your cheese (especially a soft one), but resist the temptation. Instead, serve it in a small dish near your cheeses so guests can choose if and how much of the compote to add to the cheese themselves.
Decide if you need to cut cheeses in advance
When you serve a cheese ball like my Kaukauna® Asiago Cheese Ball, it’s pretty and designed to be served whole. A spread like the Kaukauna® Garden Vegetable Spreadable Cheese Cup easily sits in a small bowl (I love the one built into this cheese board) rather than the container. Chunks of cheese, however, work best when you cut some slices for your guests. Don’t do this too early, as the cheese will dry out, but this helps guests know which direction to cut the cheese and makes those first tentative plates easier to manage.
If you serve cheese that needs to be cut, either logs or cheese balls or even choosing to leave your chunks whole, make sure each cheese has its own knife. There’s nothing worse than getting a piece of a sharp cheddar cheese ball and having it covered in residue from the Brie the last person cut.
Do you see the cheese wedges I have, too? Those go in cheese chunks (not balls or logs) so fingers have something to hold onto while cutting. As much as I love my friends, I don’t want their fingers in my food.
Enjoy Your Party!
Once you have your cheese platter set up, just enjoy. There’s no right or wrong way to eat from the cheese platter, as long as everyone enjoys it. Make sure you have at least 1-2 ounces of each cheese per person attending, and if you have leftovers, all the better for you. That means you have lunch the next day while you’re cleaning up after your party. The Kaukauna® cheeses are delicious by themselves if the meats and fruits have all been eaten, but they’re great with something to enjoy, too.
Check out other ideas for the Kaukauna® Cheese here. Also, while I picked mine up at Mariano’s, you can find your Kaukauna® Cheese at any Kroger or Kroger banner store in the cheese case.
And do you want to win a $500 VISA gift card? Kaukauna® Cheese is giving one away. Enter below!
Do you know how to create a cheese platter? What are your best tips?