If you asked Instagram, 2016 could have been the year of the cheese board. And is it any surprise? Few culinary creations are as photogenic as a big wood cutting board brimming with colorful cheeses, fruits, meats (and lots more if you get creative), and I’ve got to admit, it’s a trend I don’t think I’ll get tired of any time soon. But it’s definitely fun to shake things up, so when our friends at GREEN & BLACK’S challenged us to create the ultimate dinner party finale, I started dreaming up ways to reinvent the classic cheese board by making chocolate the centerpiece. Turns out I’ve discovered a new go-to dessert that I’ll be serving at dinner parties throughout the holiday season and beyond… and it’s way too good to keep to myself. Keep reading to see how my ultimate chocolate board came together, along with tips for creating your own.
*photos by kristen kilpatrick
Tip #1: Choose a high-quality chocolate.
Since chocolate is really the star of the show, choose one that’s made with the finest ingredients, which will determine how good the chocolate really tastes. GREEN & BLACK’S Pure Dark Chocolate with 70% Cacao and Pure Milk Chocolate are both expertly crafted with hand-selected and ethically-sourced cocoa.
Tip #2: Embrace the sweet and salty mix.
There’s nothing I love more than combining sweet and salty flavors; unexpected accompaniments to chocolate include creamy brie, baguette slices, and roasted salted nuts. Include lots of different textures and flavors to keep things interesting.
A whole honeycomb is the most luxurious centerpiece for a cheese or dessert board — perfect for dressing up any holiday spread!
Tip #3: Make it festive with fruit.
There are so many beautiful fruits that are in season during the winter. We included persimmon (so good!), blackberries, figs, and clementines in our spread. They were so delicious combined with the chocolate, or spread with a bit of cheese and honey.
Tip #4: Include some interesting chocolate flavors.
To enhance a chocolate tasting experience, it’s fun to include a few different flavors, as well as both milk and dark chocolates — which is why I love these “libraries” from GREEN & BLACK’S that include an assortment. Their chocolates are made from unique ingredients from around the world, like delicate flakes of Anglesey Sea Salt and chopped Mediterranean Almonds. After sampling the flavors, I think my absolute favorite is the Pure Dark Chocolate with Salted Caramel.
Tip #5: Determine the right amount for your group.
Plan to serve one serving per person (4 squares), and a smart serving note: make sure it’s at room temperature – the flavors are enhanced when the chocolate isn’t cold.
Tip #6: Embrace an abundant look.
Especially at the holidays, I love a lush, abundant look on the table. A variety of evergreen branches (pine and cedar are especially easy to come by), plus hearty herbs like rosemary, and a few strategically placed flowers give an incredibly seasonal feel, and also usually means a super affordable centerpiece.
Tip #7: Bring on the beverages.
Coffee, wine, dessert liqueurs. Let guests have fun trying out different pairing combinations to see which ones bring out different notes in the chocolate.
Tip #8: Prep it in advance.
One of the best parts about this concept for a party? Since there’s no cooking involved, you can design and prep your entire chocolate board before the party starts, cover it with a towel to keep everything fresh, and then not give it a second thought until you’ve cleared the dinner dishes. Can you imagine the look in your guests’ eyes when you whisk back into the dining room and place this board in the center of the table? We’re talking major #hostessgoals.
I love dressing up the table with a pretty decanter so guests can top off their own drinks, and vintage glassware feels especially right around the holidays. These actually belonged to my great grandmother!
The best part about this dinner party dessert idea? It encourages that slow, lazy lingering around the table that always signals the end of a memorable night. Guests can nibble and pour themselves another glass, and since everything is pre-prepped, I can lounge right along with them.
*this post was sponsored by GREEN & BLACK’S. Thanks for supporting our partners!
Visit greenandblacks.com to start your chocolate cheese board for your next dinner party or shop “the libraries” for a beautiful holiday gift.