Our life has a new normal and we can do one of two things in these times. We can improve and grow and fill time with experiences that create memories for generations to come and stories of how we survived the pandemic or we can kill time and be unhappy that our favorite restaurants can’t accommodate the company party, etc. I want to share with you on this post some ideas to spark your creativity, give you sources and ideas of where to start and how these charcuterie boards can be built for the whole family to enjoy. Charcuterie boards originally meant meats and cheeses and I will have to add pickles, olives and crackers. These boards have been taken that one step further and now they are holiday boards with everything imaginable for a fun get together. Consider it a buffet in a smaller square footage of space. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner and the social distancing guidelines that are all around us, let’s start with the planning and sources for this wonderful board that can be fun for the whole family. This year, plan on staying home and celebrating Valentine’s Day. Let the kids help design the board with their input of their favorite treats. I designed this board with my grandchildren in mind.
The board I used was 11 x 18. This size worked fine, but I think I would like a larger board. I found ¾ inch thick pine board at Lowe’s, 24 inches wide and 6 feet long. I am going to buy this board and have it cut and the edges finished and oiled with food grade oil to have a larger surface area to work with. I think a 24 x 24 would be perfect for a small gathering. These boards are also called grazing platters so I think the remaining 4 feet of the board would be fantastic for a larger surface area and bigger foods.
The next concept in designing your board is the season. Because of Valentine’s Day, I wanted reds, pinks, whites, and purples. I went to Kitchen Kneads and started there. I know my grandkids love candy and I wanted to just a few of their favorites since I didn’t want to load the board or them with sugar. I love the selection at Kitchen Kneads. I really like the hugs and kisses gummies and the cupid candy corns. Heart shaped chocolates are also a great quick chocolate. I picked up some pretzels and Ultra Milk Chocolate and dipped my pretzels and used some of the fantastic sprinkles I found at the store as well.
I then picked up some cookie cutters to cut the cheese into cute heart shapes and a tart pan to make the chocolate pudding pie tarts. I have included the recipe for delicious homemade chocolate pudding. All of the ingredients that I used for this were from my food storage that I have from Kitchen Kneads. While at the store I picked up some cute Valentine’s Day muffin liners to use with my brownie pops that I cooked in my cake pop pan. I have a favorite gadget that is a powdered sugar spoon that just beautifully sprinkles just the right amount of powdered sugar on my treats. In the pictures you will see the powdered sugar on the brownie pops and the chocolate pudding tarts.
I then gathered my favorite whole grain crackers, cheeses, and fruit and set to work. I did make a strawberry fruit dip that is also to use on the crackers topped with fresh fruit. I have included that recipe as well.
The next step is the creativity (and the most fun besides eating the treats) and designing how the board should be put together. I gathered some heart shaped doilies, a cheese knife, a bamboo knife for the dip and the cute hands tongs, hopefully for germ control, and set to work. I wanted to create directions and textures and spots for the candies. I wanted the foods to run together so hopefully the grandkids would eat from the whole board and not just the candies. All of the foods are little for little fingers. Here are some additional ideas for foods on boards for kiddos:
Animal crackers or fish crackers, peanut butter or ham and cheese sandwiches cut into cute shapes. Cherry tomatoes and cubes of cheese on toothpicks, tiny pickles, olives and cheese on toothpicks. As you can see, the ideas are endless.
I look forward to making a charcuterie board whenever I have a small group of people over and for any season or holiday. Any season will be exciting to plan a board. Imagine one for St. Patrick’s Day, a spring brunch, Mother’s Day, Memorial Day, or any day that kicks off summer! Wouldn’t a BBQ board be fun? If the event is in the evening and the board is large enough, candles can even be incorporated onto the board. A potluck board would be fun as well. Have all the guests bring items that are part of the theme of the evening and create an eclectic, yet coordinated board. Fun for everyone!
I did learn a few things in creating a board: make sure the items that you have on the edge of the board don’t roll if your board doesn’t have a lip or edge. Have small plates and napkins on hand so people will fill their plate and not stand at the board to eat. Have plenty of small tongs, toothpicks, and knives for cheese and spreads if touching the food by guests is a concern.
A themed board would also be fun… A taco board and use the mini tortilla bowl maker to hold guacamole and salsa. A nacho board would also be fun and make the whole board a huge nacho platter. Again, the possibilities are endless and pictures are fun to take of your board and the happy memories that it is creating. Take a picture of your board and share it with Kitchen Kneads by way of the blog or on Facebook. Again, make Kitchen Kneads your first stop in designing your charcuterie board this Valentine season or any season. These following recipes as well as anything you choose for your board can be designed for any eating and health plan. Boards can also be a combination of types of recipes to accommodate all guests
Homemade Chocolate Pudding
- 2 cups milk of choice or canned coconut milk
- 1/8 teaspoon salt
- ¼ cup Dutch cocoa powder
- 1/3 cup sugar, pure maple syrup, or honey (I used pure maple syrup)
- 1 /2 cup milk of choice +3 tablespoons cornstarch (I used NON-GMO Cornstarch)
- Optional: 3.5 oz chocolate chips or pure chocolate (I used a gourmet bittersweet chocolate)
- Heat the 2 cups milk of choice in a saucepan with the salt, cocoa powder, and sweetener.
- Meanwhile, whisk the cornstarch and ½ cup milk in a small bowl until dissolved.
- When the 2 cups milk are warm, add the cornstarch mixture and bring to a boil. Once boiling, stir constantly for 2 minutes. Lower the heat to a simmer for an additional minute, then turn off the heat.
- Once the heat if off, stir in the vanilla and the chocolate pieces until the chocolate melts.
- Fill tart pans or graham cracker crust pans or pour into small serving containers and place in the fridge. Note that the pudding will get thicker as it cools.
- If using as a tart, when cooled, sprinkle powdered sugar on the tart. If using as a pudding, use whipped cream. This will be the best chocolate pudding you will have ever tasted.
Strawberry Fruit Dip and Spread
- 1 container whipped topping
- 1 (6 oz.) container plain yogurt
- ¼ cup pureed strawberries or fruit of choice. (Optional: can also sub 1 teaspoon of vanilla and sweeten with pure maple syrup)
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl until well combined. Perfect spread for crackers or to use as a fruit dip.
Sources: Chocolate pudding adapted from chocolatecoveredkatie.com