Today I am doing the very difficult and labor-intensive work to tell you How to Build a Fall/Winter Cheese Board!
I’m not trying to brag but I have been invited to two holiday parties already and we haven’t the true Holiday season. This is going to be a very fun time for me! I’m excited. My neighborhood is very into the holiday spirit; each and every single house on the block already has lights up. In order to fit in with the Jones’, we spent the weekend trying to get our lives together, i.e., getting rid of the squirrel-eaten pumpkins.
Let’s dive in:
How to Build a Fall/Winter Cheese Plate!
– Pick your cheeses: Harvarti, Gouda, Alpine (gruyére) – I cubed up Havarti and Gouda for easy consumption. I am all for keeping cheese in their wedge-form but it’s also great to cube up easy-to-eat cheese like these. This way people can use a toothpick and keep it moving.
These rolls on a Saturday morning make everything better. They are soft and warm and delicious. The combo of orange and chocolate will forever be a favorite of mine. It is classic Holiday vibes but I really feel like we should make space to enjoy them year around.
Orange and Chocolate Filling
Orange and chocolate is a classic Holiday flavor combo. Many people LOVE it. Some people dislike it. It’s truly a polarizing flavor combination that divides people right in half.
As you can imagine, I am in the group of people who LOVE this flavor combination.
The filling is gently spiced with some cinnamon and all-spice. The orange flavor comes from some fresh orange zest that is put on top of that filling.
I’m pretty sure we can all agree that the week before Christmas is the most INSANE WEEK IN THE ENTIRE WORLD. We’re all bustling, hustling and working (and werking) to get everything wrapped up and done before everyone peaces out for the rest of the year.
Next week I have a massage booked. I’m going to Palm Springs for a few days to rest up and do absolutely nothing. During this time, I plan on writing a few things down: my goals for 2015 (proof I’m getting older, I never used to do this), things I learned in 2014 and a few things I’m grateful for. It sounds like a cheesy little thing to do, but these tasks organize my thoughts. It’s like going to The Container Store for my brain.
Next week, there will be pie. Because, pie. And because there always should be pie.
There’s also a chance I might listen to the last episode of SERIAL again because OMG Ronald. NO! I’m not buying that, attorney-who-I-respect. UGH! Jay did it.
I do things at the holidays I don’t always do during the year: I (attempt) to decorate every corner of my apartment; I bake any chance I get; and I put antler ears on Amelia and force her to take pictures with me. Basically, what I’m saying is that I embrace the season and try and make the most of it. A big part of taking advantage of the season is creating things, arranging things, and making my home look as pretty and magical as possible.
Today I teamed up with Target to show you a pretty and fuss-free dessert table. Treat-making is my favorite thing to do but I do know that during the holidays it’s tough to tackle a gigantic project for a party (I tackled a buche de noel on Saturday, more on that later!), so I wanted to give you something super easy: Cappuccino Truffles! The best part about this recipe is the fact that it requires a lot of downtime, allowing you to turn your attention to making the dessert table look as cute as possible. I wanted the dessert table to feel cozy (I know, surprising), neutral and natural, and rely on gold and silver to bring some sparkle.
The recipe starts with heating cream and pouring it over chopped chocolate, after a little stir action, it goes in the fridge to chill.
During this time, I hung this cute tree garland around the table. I also hung this wall garland I made a few days prior that consisted of some cedar, pine cones and tallow branches. All you need a bit of floral wire and a few nails! Super easy.
16ouncesbitter-sweet chocolate, chopped (chips are also fine!)
1/4cupcoffee granules, finely ground
1/4cupinstant milk powder
1tablespoonpowdered sugar, plus more for garnish
In a small saucepan, heat heavy cream until it reaches a light simmer. Pour the hot heavy cream over the chocolate and allow to stand for 2 to 3 minutes. Stir until smooth. Pour the chocolate into a shallow dish, such as a 9-inch pie dish, and transfer to the fridge to chill for 1 hour and 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, in a food processor, add the coffee, milk powder, salt and powdered sugar. Pulse until finely ground and mixed. Transfer to a shallow bowl and set aside.
Using a #20 ice cream scoop (or a melon baller), scoop out mounds of the chocolate mixture onto a piece of parchment or wax paper (they’ll look a bit like wonky circles—don’t worry!). Transfer to the fridge to chill for an additional hour. Remove from the fridge and using your hands, roll the mounds of chocolate to form a circle (don’t worry if they’re not perfect circles) and then immediately transfer to the fridge to chill for an additional 15 minutes. Roll the chocolate balls in the coffee mixture and place in mini cupcake liners. Keep refrigerated until you’re ready to serve, at which time, allow to stand at room temperature for about 30 minutes, just to take off a bit of its chill. Garnish, if you like, with a teeny dusting of powdered sugar.
No one, and I mean no one, loves cheesecake more than my dad. I have no idea why because the man doesn’t even like cheese. WHA!! Yes, I know. He doesn’t like cheese. It’s the oddest thing in the entire world, but his favorite dessert of them all—and he loves mostly everything sweet—is cheesecake.
He’s extremely critical about cheesecake because he eats a lot of it. As I was recipe testing this here cheesecake, I’d send him photos throughout the process and he’d remark skeptically, giving his harsh criticisms and recommendations. Mostly I think it’s just funny that he takes cheesecake so seriously.
I’m not sure how this will live up to my dad’s cheesecake expectations, but I loved it. It’s perfectly tart; the texture is smooth; and the chocolate crust gives it a nice decadent element. The marble topping is kinda pretty, quickly making it the favorite at a holiday dessert table…or, to you know, eat by yourself by the Christmas tree. And while marbling anything may seem a bit difficult, it’s actually pretty easy.
The one thing I hate about making cheesecake is a using a damn springform pan. They’re insanely frustrating, flawed in how their made. Most of them leak, which means, water comes in when you bake it in a water bath. The solution to this for many, is baking a cheesecake in a cake pan. With this though, because of the pretty top, I needed to use a spring form pan (I had one anyway). The solution was to wrap the entire bottom in a few sheets of foil. No water seeping through!
One thing I learned about marbling is this: if you want tighter swirls, use a smaller skewer to swirl the cranberry sauce around. If you want bigger swirls (I did), use a larger skewer and get messy with it. I promise it’ll look pretty regardless.
And that’s really it!
My dad is making this recipe this weekend. Hopefully he’ll leave a comment with the results.
*1 1/4 cups, about 16 cookies chocolate cookie crumbs
2tablespoonswhite granulated sugar
4tablespoonsunsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
24ouncescream cheese, room temperature
5ouncesgoat cheese, room temperature
1 1/2cupswhite granulated sugar
1teaspoonpure vanilla extract
1/4cupwhite granulated sugar
1teaspoonorange zest, from about 1/2 naval orange
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. In a small bowl, mix together the cookie crumbs, sugar, salt and melted butter. Dump the crust mixture into a nine-inch (10-cup) springform pan and press evenly onto the bottom of the pan until packed tightly. Transfer to the oven to bake for 8 minutes (unfortunately since the crumbs are so dark you can’t really tell when they’ve toasted so it’s important to pay attention to the clock). Remove from the oven and cool completely before adding the filling. Wrap the bottom of the spring form pan in a few sheets of foil and set aside.
To the bowl of a stand-up mixer, using a paddle attachment, add the cream cheese and goat cheese. Whip until smooth and fluffy, about 2 to 3 minutes. Next, mix in the sugar. With the machine one, add the eggs, one at a time, waiting until each egg is incorporated before adding the next one. Lastly, mix in the salt and vanilla extract.
In a small saucepan, add the cranberries, white granulated sugar, water, orange zest and salt. Cook over medium heat and simmer for about 5 minutes, until the cranberries become soft. Press the cranberries with a back of a spoon or spatula and cook for an additional minute until they’re softened. Pour the mixture through a medium-mesh sieve, pressing the cranberries to release any excess juice. The mixture should resemble a loose jam—it’ll thicken as it cools. Transfer to a squeeze bottle. (If you don’t have a squeeze bottle, then no biggie, just transfer it to a measuring cup with a spout—it’ll be easier to pour.)
Pour the cream cheese mixture into the springform pan and smooth out the top with a spatula. Make sure it reaches the edge of the pan. Make little dollops of cranberry sauce all over the surface of the cream cheese. Take a skewer or popsicle stick and run it through the dollops creating a marbling effect. Make it as messy or neat as you like. Place the springform pan in a roasting pan, or another pan that’s as big. Transfer to the rack of the oven and fill up the roasting pan with about 2 inches of water. Bake for 40 to 45 minutes, until it looks set, yet it’s still a bit wobbly in the center. Place on a cooling rack for 30 minutes and then place it in the fridge to set for at least 3 hours. (I let it set overnight.) Slice it up and serve.
*I used Nabisco famous chocolate wafers, found at most grocery stores. I blitzed them in a food processor until totally crumby.