Streets are illuminated by twinkling lights, trees stood and decorated, homes are filled with holiday spirit. Regardless of which holidays people are celebrating, most agree that winter is a cheerful time for everyone to enjoy. When brainstorming for the December board, a multitude of holiday-themed ideas came to mind. Driving past homes, street lamps, and buildings, whether it’s in a window, on a door, or hung on lights: wreaths are everywhere. The decorative green ring was easy to achieve and it turned out to be a wonderful holiday snack. With a vast range of adornments, there was so much freedom decorating this festive board.
Starting with the base, an edible green wreath was constructed with parsley and mint. By trimming off the ends or tucking it under, the stems were easy to hide. Many different greens would have sufficed for the wreath, but personally, the parsley worked best. Small leaves of mint poking out the side provided a texture different from the leafy parsley.
Making this board presented a slight conundrum: a very cranberry-themed one at that. With unlimited freedom, I grabbed a few too many cranberry-themed items, thinking it would be fitting for the board’s theme. It’s not that there’s anything wrong with cranberries, simply that there are too many.
Beginning the berry theme, dry cranberries scattered among the parsley green added the first base color. Not far from the berries were some chocolate-covered cranberries. The party isn’t over yet though. The chocolate berries provided sweetness and a savory chocolate flavoring, and chocolate pretzels in the shape of trees adding a much needed crunch.
For this arrangement, the cheeses finally branch out past basic cheddar and gouda. But not yet past cranberries. When making boards, it’s important to consider things that everyone likes, personal preference is alright but other people might have a completely different palette.
Touching on a type of cheese that’s never been in this column, the first of four cheeses is a goat cheese with cranberries. The log is wrapped in dried cranberries and rolled into a log shape, similar to a log of cookie dough. With it being the first appearance of goat cheese, classmates were quite skeptical of it, voicing discomfort about trying something new. But after an adventurous few volunteered, more warmed up to trying a bite.
Thankfully the cranberry reaches an end here, with a cranberry cheddar. Unlike a majority of flavored cheddars, this one includes actual cranberries in the cheese. The crumbly, semi-soft texture aids the cheese in breaking apart easily at first chew. Being from Wisconsin, the cheese is up to par. Flavor-wise it’s both sweet and tart due to the berry, with a savory hint of cheddar. It’s most commonly used in sandwiches, soup, and casserole. Seemingly odd uses for an unusual flavor of cheese.
A luxurious aged cheddar bearing a uniquely sweet sharpness. No description could cover the immense flavor it carries. White fox is an aged Leicester by Belton Farms. Even the smallest cube showcases the fall apart texture and rich saltiness that melts into a nutty aftertaste. This is one of many cheeses that most people can’t disagree with. A good pairing is on burgers and frittatas, but it works even better on its own as a snack.
Similar to the unwrapping of a present, brie cheese made its debut on this month’s board. Saint Rocco Triple Creme Brie is a milky wheel of spreadable cheese. Brie is the closest cheese to butter, in both taste and viscosity. Many times people have said they dislike brie, but that’s hard to believe. A common mistake when snacking on Brie is not removing the rind. While it is edible and adds flavor, the texture is thrown off completely. Along with the assumption that all bries taste the same, it’s a cheese both loved and avoided.
Brie is perfect for spreading on crackers, but there are endless possibilities for pairing. Around the holidays, baked brie becomes especially popular. On cheese boards, it’s added in a full wheel and later sliced to serve. The cheese held up nicely when spread on crackers. The New York Style Bagel Crackers sat on the edge of the wreath giving it more shape and a much needed lighter tone.
Since fires are prohibited, and roasted chestnuts weren’t available, so a pile of cinnamon roasted almonds sufficed. The small number of nuts were later reduced to a pile of the cinnamon sugar coating, a sure sign of a well-received side. Nuts such as walnuts, pecans, peanuts, and others, are a substantial addition to arrangements. The crunchiness and simplistic flavor make nuts easy to use for filling boards.