With any charcuterie board, the key to building a successful spread is variety. That means different flavors and different textures, and flexing your sweet tooth a little can be all it takes to make a believer out of even the staunchest salty fan. What we mean is, that your usual go-to board belongs after the main course instead of before. The era of the dessert board has arrived.
It's perfect for grazing while visiting with friends and family, making for an easy crowd-pleaser at baby showers, Mother's Day lunches, birthday parties, and movie nights. The dessert charcuterie board can be especially good for entertaining guests after a dinner or holiday party when everybody has already eaten the main meal and is ready for a sweet finisher as they digest. Plus, if you have any leftovers, you can send guests home with an assortment of treats in a resealable plastic bag.
With their ornate designs and bright colors, desserts are inherently more opulent than rustic (unless rustic is your theme), so opt for a fittingly glamorous base like a marble cutting board or ceramic serving tray. To begin, you could lay out all the desserts on your kitchen countertop to visualize the arrangement of different colors and textures on your board. As you build it, alternate flavors and colors, plating opposite foods together, like vivid soft berries beside pale crunchy shortbread. And that's only the beginning.
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As you build, a plan of attack can be helpful. Place larger treats like cookies and brownies first, then fill the gaps on the board with smaller treats like fruit and pretzels. Any dips or baked goods can be made ahead of time, but wait to slice any fresh fruit until just before serving time. If you want to prep the entire board before a party for easy hosting, assemble it, wrap it with plastic wrap or aluminum foil, and leave it out at room temperature. Omit the fruit and keep it in the fridge until serving time.
On a practical note, consider the setting in which you'll be enjoying your dessert charcuterie board. If you'll be eating it during an outdoor picnic on a sweltering hot summer day, it's probably a good idea to steer clear of chocolates or other melting-prone sweets. It can also be helpful to serve harder-to-contain treats in a small bowl strategically placed on the board. Peanut M&Ms, fresh cherries, and other small candies would benefit from a little controlled serving.
Charcuterie boards are often served as an accouterment to wine, so pair your knockout dessert board with a fittingly impressive beverage, like steaming mugs of amaretto hot chocolate, chilled port wine, or a batch of delicate cocktails like Aperol Spritzes or Peach Bellini. Prefer a non-alcoholic sipper? Lavender lemonade or hot rosehip tea would make a delicious pairing.
To brainstorm, it can be helpful to take a cue from your favorite go-to savory charcuterie board foods and swap them out for their dessert equivalent. For instance, if you normally assemble your boards with a swipe of chicken liver pâté, you might whip up some mocha chocolate mousse, mascarpone, or white chocolate ganache fruit dip. To include a crunchy element, try slivered almonds, pizzelle, chocolate-dipped pretzel rods, Kit Kats, toffee chunks, biscotti, frosted animal crackers, kettle corn, or spiced digestive biscuits. If you're serving a larger chocolate bar, break it into individual perforated smaller squares to serve on the board.
For a chewy addition, you could use candied orange peel, dried cherries, filled chocolate truffles, cake pops, mini donuts, Rice Krispy treats, licorice ropes, or peanut brittle. Finally, for a soft, plush touch, try loading your dessert board with madeleines, meringue puffs, brownie bites, macarons, or fresh fruit. You can also skewer softer pastries with toothpicks for easier pickup.
Alternatively, you could also build your dessert charcuterie board around a central theme, like a s'mores-inspired board with graham crackers, chocolate, marshmallows, peanut butter cups, and bowls of marshmallow fluff and Nutella. A theme can also be useful for holiday parties like Valentine's Day or Christmas when some specific desserts are already customarily served.
Read the original article on Tasting Table.