Assemble a Delicious
A cheese platter makes a lovely, edible centerpiece for casual and formal affairs alike. Set out a stylish marble or wood cheese board and fill it with your favorite types of cheese. Mix things up with different flavors and textures: think mild and buttery, bitter and sharp, and both hard and soft cheeses. If you’re setting out a display of exotic cheeses, it’s a good idea to also serve one or two familiar cheeses to make sure there is something for every palate. Here’s how to prep a perfect platter for any occasion.
Cheese Platter Presentation
Let your cheeses warm to room temperature for approximately one hour before serving, for ideal texture and maximum flavor. (Warming the cheese slightly before serving also makes it easier for guests to cut.) If your get-together is casual, serve the crackers and extras in the center of the platter with the slices of cheese all the way around. For a more formal gathering, get place card holders, and sign each of your cheeses, and where it’s from. Arrange each item in its own container, such as a platter for the cheese, a basket for baguette slices, small dishes for nuts and larger serving bowls to fill with fresh fruit.
When preparing a cheese tray to serve before dinner, plan to set out a slightly larger amount of cheese than you would on an after-dinner platter. Around 2 ounces of cheese per guest is a good guideline for pre-dinner noshing. Serve the cheese with crackers and savory accompaniments like olives, meat slices and nuts. Also, leave space between each type of cheese you put on the platter and set out a knife for each type of cheese, so the flavors don’t get mixed together unintentionally.
Take a cue from European culture and serve cheese for dessert. Fill the platter with a variety of lighter cheeses and a mix of sweet and salty extras, like fresh grapes, melon slivers, dried apricots and condiment bowls filled with nuts. Since this is post-dinner, the amount of cheese served per person is typically a bit smaller, with 1 to 1.5 ounces of cheese for each person.
Cheese for Dinner
When the cheese platter is the main course, like at a wine-and-cheese party or during game night, plan to set out about 6 to 8 ounces of cheese per person. Choose a creative way to set your display, like putting it out on a tiered cake stand, and alternating the tiers with your cheeses, crackers, nuts and fruit for visual interest. A tiered stand gives you extra room for larger portions, and creates a pretty display on your table or counter. Set out salt and pepper shakers on each side of the tray in case anyone wants to add an extra dash of flavor, and set faux florals or succulents around the base for an impressive touch.
Whether it’s for a laid-back lunch or an after-school snack, go ahead and pre-slice the cheeses, instead of setting out individual knifes for each. When you prep and arrange cheese slices on the platter, the tray is ready for your guests to grab what they want. Have the cheese sliced at the deli counter or cut it yourself with a sharp knife or cheese slicer. Then, either cut larger slices into cracker-sized squares or use a small cookie cutter to cut the slices into various shapes.