When your friends and family gather for the holidays, give the gift of snacking. To feed a crowd, big or small, look no further than charcuterie boards. In this tutorial, we'll show you how to arrange seasonal ingredients into the shape of a Christmas tree to create a snackable charcuterie centerpiece.
Before we can deck the halls, let's set the scene. Charcuterie boards are typically presented on large wood, stone, or marble cheese boards that define the space of your festive foods. Some ingredients can be served off to the side in bowls with serving utensils. Provide small plates for guests where they can assemble their bites, and offer food picks if spreading germs is a concern.
For our festive presentation, we'll use the following supplies:
- Large wood and marble board
- 1 large star-shaped cookie cutter
- 3 bowls—1 small, 2 medium
- 1 spoon
- 1 cheese spreader knife
- Small plates for all guests
- Food picks for all guests
Meats and cheeses are the star of any charcuterie board. The supporting ensemble consists of fruits and veggies, bread and crackers, spreads, and garnishes. Many of our selections are harvested during late autumn and winter, so follow along with our suggestions for quality ingredients that are emblematic of the holidays. Or, swap in your own ingredient choices to suit your tastes. Whether you splurge on specialty cheeses or save with grocery store staples, you’ll lavish your guests with a variety of food that everyone can enjoy.
Unsure how much meat and cheese to buy? First, decide if you’re serving the platter as an hors d'oeuvres or the main course. As an appetizer, you’ll need about two ounces of meat two ounces of cheese per person. As a main course, double that amount for about four ounces of meat and four ounces of cheese per person. Reserve any extra accompaniments that don't fit on the board right away to replenish the spread as people snack.
Our demonstration uses amounts for an appetizer board that feeds four-six people, and you may adjust the quantities as needed.
- 8 oz Pecorino Romano (hard texture, tangy, salty, slightly spicy)
- 8 oz aged gouda (semi-firm texture, rich, caramel-like flavor)
- 1 box Camembert (creamy texture, earthy, nutty, fruity)
- 8 oz thinly sliced prosciutto (cured ham, buttery texture, salty, mildly sweet)
- 8 oz Spanish chorizo (cured pork sausage, firm texture, sweet or spicy, smoky)
- 2 red or green Anjou pears
- 2 pink lady apples
- 1 cup cranberry spread (optional: whole cranberries for garnish)
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) roasted chestnuts
- 1/2 cup (4 oz) roasted pistachios
- About 12 sprigs of fresh parvifolia eucalyptus or fresh rosemary
- Arils from 1 pomegranate
- 1 bag if chocolate pieces with Christmas present foil wrappers
- 1-2 boxes water crackers
- 1 baguette (plus olive oil for toasting into crostini)
- Pretzel sticks
Some ingredients can go right from the package to the board, but we'll explain how to prepare the ones that can't.
Tip: Charcuterie boards can be prepped ahead of time, taking a little stress off your plate during a hectic time of year. Meat, cheese, fruit, and spreads can be covered and kept in the fridge for up to 24 hours before eating. Just make sure to take the board out of the fridge about an hour before serving so the flavors can burst back to life.
Start by cutting the Pecorino Romano and aged gouda into cubes. Using the star-shaped cookie cutter, cut out the Camembert to create a festive cheese tree topper.
Separate the prosciutto slices and set aside to be loosely piled once it's time to assemble. Thinly slice the Spanish chorizo, then quarter fold the slices by folding them in half once (creating a semi-circle), then folding them in half again to make a triangle. Run a toothpick through the center to hold the folds together, and continue adding quarter-folded slices to the same toothpick until it's full. Repeat with three-four more toothpicks.
Cut the pears and apples into wedge-shaped slices.
Place the cranberry spread in the small bowl and optionally garnish with whole cranberries. Set aside.
Combine the pistachios and chestnuts.
De-seed the pomegranate and reserve the arils.
Put the water crackers in a medium bowl. Use the baguette to make crostini by thinly slicing the baguette, brushing both sides of the slices with olive oil, placing them on a baking sheet, and toasting them in the oven at 450 degrees Fahrenheit until golden and crisp (about 6-9 minutes). Put the crostini in the other medium bowl.
To create a Christmas tree that is both showstopping and inviting, we will arrange rows of ingredients into a triangle shape then finesse it with garnishes. If you are using different ingredients than us, a good rule of thumb is to use the main/most popular ingredients to form the widest rows.
Step 1: Place the Camembert star
Hang your shining star upon the highest bough by placing the cut-out Camembert star at the top of the board.
Step 2: Assemble the tree shape
Arrange a handful of mixed pistachios and chestnuts into a small, narrow triangle just below the star to form the top point of the tree. To imitate pine branches, tuck two sprigs of parvifolia eucalyptus below the nuts, cut to about the same width as the row.
Repeat this process with the following ingredients, making each row slightly wider and nestling eucalyptus branches between each row: apples slices, Pecorino Romano cubes, Spanish chorizo folds, pear slices, gouda cubes, and piled prosciutto folds. Be sure to leave enough room at the bottom of the board for the trunk.
Step 3: Pretzel trunk
To create the tree trunk, place a bundle of pretzel sticks perpendicular to the bottom row of prosciutto folds. The pretzel sticks should be centered underneath the row and touching the prosciutto.
Step 4: Garnish
Sprinkle some pomegranate arils all over the tree to resemble lights and ornaments. Any extras can be reserved for snacking or saved to replenish the garnish. Scatter a handful of chocolate present pieces around the trunk as gifts under the tree that your guests can unwrap.
Step 5: Set out the bowls and utensils
Finally, place the bowls of crostini, water crackers, and cranberry spread around the board. Put the spoon in the bowl of cranberry spread and set the cheese knife near the Camembert star. Put small plates and food picks nearby that guests can use to build their bites.
Gather 'round the Christmas tree and dig in! Show us your Christmas tree charcuterie board masterpieces by tagging us in a photo on social media @walkeredisonco.