Looking for a touch of the dramatic this October? Use these tips and tricks to put together a deceptively creepy Halloween Cheese Board, and impress your guests with a macabre twist on a crowd-pleasing classic.
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Making A Creepy Halloween Cheese Board
A well-curated cheese board is welcome at any party. Cured meat, cheese, jam, and a bit of fruit? Instant crowd-pleaser. Include some gluten-free crackers, and there’s a little something for everyone.
Halloween parties are no exception to this rule, and can be even more fun to put together. Use these tips as inspiration to not only elevate your typical charcuterie spread, but add that little extra touch of the macabre to make an exceptionally creepy Halloween Cheese Board.
The Basic Components of a Superb Spread
Okay, the truth is that making a cheese board is simple – there are no rules, just suggestions. Don’t get intimidated. Buy the items you know you and your guests will enjoy (and can afford). But just in case you’re a bit overwhelmed, I’m happy to share what I’ve learned over the years. Take these tips as a starting point, and have the confidence to pick out something delicious.
A World of Cheese: First things first – cheese! A basic rule of thumb is to include at least three basic types, and then expand from there. Start with the general favorites:
- A soft, spreadable cheese (like a brie or my personal favorite, Délice de Bourgogne Triple Creme)
- A semi-soft cheese (sharp cheddar or Jarlesburg Swiss are good choices)
- Something hard and crumbly, usually with the word “aged” in the name (a nutty Parmesan or a aged Gouda, perhaps)
- From there, add the cheeses that are a little more unique – a pungent blue cheese, a cheese ball covered in nuts, those goat cheeses that come smothered in fruit or wine. If you’re stuck, ask the person behind the cheese counter – they’ll surely suggest something they love!
Jams & Other Jars: Fig jam and honey comb are my go-to spreads, but any jam (or rich, raw honey) would be a terrific addition. Maybe even try something homemade, like this Spiced Fig and Plum Jam.
Layers of Charcuterie: Charcuterie (a fancy word for cured meats) is a must for a carnivorous crowd. Go with a mix of thinly sliced items from your butcher counter (like aged prosciutto), and a log of hard salami you’ll cut yourself into thicker slices. I usually pick two or three types.
The Sweet Things: Fruit, both dried and fresh, add color and sweetness. They’re also a great balance to the fattier elements. Grapes don’t require any cutting prep (a total bonus), but some thinly sliced apples or whole figs are always nice. Sprinkle the board with some dried fruit – cranberries, cherries, and Pajarero figs are all great choices.
Breads & Crackers: Stoneground wheat crackers are an easy standby. I like to include a thinly sliced baguette as well, because I love making little open face sandwiches using soft cheese, jam, and some prosciutto. Include a bowl of Glutino-brand gluten-free crackers if you have guests with mixed dietary needs, and maybe something a little different for variety, like these Leslie Stow Raincoast Crisps.
Odds & Ends: Everything else is gravy. You want to add some fancy pickles? Perfect! Some salty nuts or seeds for crunch? Great! Together, sprinkled around in little clumps and groups on the plate, it will all look fabulous.
A Little Halloween Dark Magic
Now that the basics are out of the way, how do you make it look creepy for Halloween? The trick is to pick items that evoke visceral reactions from your guests. Choose things that look a little old, a little off, moldy, or rotten even though you know the food is perfectly fresh!
For my version, I was inspired by a Dark Forest Feast theme. Think dark faeries and fabulously frightening witches feasting in moonlit glades. Think dark curling branches of dead and dying trees, swarms of vermin, and swampy wild-life.
This is what I think about in my spare time.
Anyway, for my Halloween Cheese Board I bought ingredients that had extra touches of darkness – blue cheese with prominent veins; orange and yellowed cheeses and cheeses with black pepper rinds; shriveled brown figs and concord grapes so deep purple they could be black. The most extravagant element is the honeycomb. It can be pricey, but trust me when I tell you there are few things so enjoyable and cracking into the comb and letting the wax and rich honey melt in your mouth in tiny, decadent bites.
The finishing touch is in the accessories. I used a slate cheese board, allowing the spread itself to take center stage. I also found some little fake bugs, which will give your guests a squeamish reaction (even if they know what they’re looking at). The black twigs are cut from a larger plastic branch, and unlike real flora, sanitary against the food. Garnish your Halloween Cheese Board with some colored potion bottles and fake plant life from your local craft store, and you’ll have a Dark Forest Feast of your own before you know it.
This is just a jumping off point – go forth and make a fabulously creepy Halloween Cheese Board for all your parties this October! Impress your guests with a spread that’s dramatically devious and deceptively delicious. Happy All Hallow’s Eve!
A Creepy Halloween Cheese Board
Looking for a touch of the dramatic this October? Use these tips and tricks to put together a creepy Halloween Cheese Board, and impress your guests with a macabre twist on a crowd-pleasing classic.
Feeds 4-6 people, but is easily scaled for different numbers.
- 12-15 oz mixed cheese variety (See note)
- 1/3 lb 18-month aged Prosciutto Di Parma
- 1/4 lb Columbus Rosette de Lyon salami
- Black olives
- Concord Grapes & Black Mission Figs
- Dried Spanish Pajarero Figs
- Cornichon pickles
- Salty Date & Almond Leslie Stow Raincoast Crisps
- Local honeycomb
- Stoneground wheat crackers & a sliced French baguette
- Pomegranate seeds & dried cherries
- Quarter pint jar of homemade spiced fig & plum jam
- Mild Genoa salami
- Marcona almonds
- Potion bottles of various sizes filled with craft-store foliage
- Fake insects or spiders
- Plastic black branches (avoid any with glitter!)
- Fox skull optional
Start by placing your cheeses on your serving board, then arrange the cured meats and other ingredients around them in various piles. Try to make it so that a perfect bite can be made easily from any part of the board by placing sweet fruits and salty meats or nuts in orbit around the various cheeses.
Selecting Cheese: For this cheese board, I went for a balance of aesthetics and taste – everything should look creepy and well-composed for Halloween, but also enjoyable when inevitably eaten!
- The BellaVitano Black Pepper Cheese is made in the USA, and has a fantastic taste similar to a nice cheddar.
- Valdeon Blue Cheese originates in Spain. The flavor is pungent enough to know its a blue cheese, but not so strong as to scare people off (for a stronger blue, Roquefort is an excellent choice).
- The bright orange Mimolette is a semi-soft French cheese that has its own unique but delicious flavor. The colors of the cheese and the rind are perfect for Halloween.
- The round is a cave-aged brandy-washed cow’s milk cheese. While I chose the last for the worn, orange rind color, I’d much prefer a more classic Délice de Bourgogne Triple-Crème on my cheese board.