Merry Christmas, Friends!
Disclaimer: There will be a lot going on in this post, but this is the Christmas season and the most appropriate time to be extra! I am quite extra, ya’ll!
The Christmas season is my favorite time of the year! The festivities, food, fellowship with friends and loved ones and more importantly, the reason for the season. I could not just pick one so two of my favorite things to make during this season are Charcuterie Boards and Christmas Crackers. Let's chat about it!
The Charcuterie Board
In layman's terms, charcuterie is a French word for an array of preserved meats such as cured sausages, salami, and prosciutto. So really a charcuterie board would technically be just a board of meat, right? Does not sound too exciting. When and how other accompaniments such as cheese, jams, fruit, nuts, and crackers came in, I am unsure, but it certainly makes it delicious and amplifies the entire experience!
We love a good charcuterie board around my house. My nephew and nieces are particularly fond of it. Creating a charcuterie board can take some effort depending on how large of board you make and it can also get expensive if using artisan meats and gourmet cheeses. In my opinion, there are no hard rules when I make my boards. This is not the charcuterie board Olympics. There is no prize awarded. Just the gift of oohs and ahhs from those who will be eating it.
When I create my boards, I do try to ensure there is a good variety of meats, cheese, sweet and savory items, nuts, assorted crackers, fruits, veggies, and the rest I just have fun with. Pro tip: If you run out of room on your board, just place other accompaniments on nice plates or trays. No one cares whether everything is not on one board. It will still get eaten. Believe me.
One item that I have yet to have on any of my boards is raw honeycomb. I am kind of obsessed with trying it. First, it looks pretty. Secondly, it looks delicious. Are there any new food items that you would like to try on a charcuterie board? Let me know in the comments as I would love to hear your thoughts. I have heard people say that a charcuterie board is the adult version of a Lunch-able. Fine then. I am okay with that.
What are your favorite items to have on a charcuterie board? Mine are juicy mesquite smoked turkey, smoked salmon, Gouda cheese, Fontina cheese, and Bark Thins. I really love Bark Thins! Like, really, really love Bark Thins! All of my charcuterie boards usually contain Bark Thins. Some way, some how it's happening! Okay, I know I am getting carried away.
What I fancy most about a charcuterie board is the fact that you can casually graze or heavily graze depending on how hungry you are. No judgment here! Nosh on! I made a board last week. It was a very lovely Sunday spent relaxing with the family. You know that I had to make sure I snapped a few photos to share with you. Check them out as well as my Top 5 Tips for a Fabulous Charcuterie Board below.
Top 5 Tips for a Fabulous Charcuterie Board
Select the board to display your goodies. No rules. Personally, I like Bamboo or Cedar boards. On occasion, I have just placed all the goodies on a table covered in butcher paper and it looked awesome. Seriously, whatever you have at home will do just nicely.
Get the items that you and your guests like and then throw in something unusual like spicy pickled okra or duck meatloaf pâté (yes, it is a real thing).
Make it pretty. No, you do not have to be a food artist to make your board pretty. Cut open fresh fruit to show the juiciness of it. Toss nuts and seeds in empty spaces. Alternate meats, cheeses, crackers, sweets on your board. Gingerly place some edible flowers throughout the board. I usually find the edible flowers at Whole Foods.
Have fun with it. This is the most important tip I can share. Again, there are no rules, folks. It is your board, make it your way. As I stated earlier, it can take some effort putting a fabulous board together, but don’t overthink it.
Stand back and marvel in your creation. Then, stand further back and watch how your guests marvel at your creation. You did it and you are awesome! Look in the mirror and give yourself the nod and a thumbs up.
Now let’s talk about Christmas Crackers. What is it, exactly? It is a sweet and salty combination of saltine crackers, butter, caramelized sugar, and chocolate. I think it is perfect as it is, but you can go wild adding whatever topping that you prefer such as dried fruit, nuts, peppermints, and other tasty candies.
Sometimes, I leave it plain and other times I add a bit of razzle dazzle to it. I have seen several versions using different types of crackers and chocolate. Other versions have been more elaborate such as a double and triple decker. Wow!
This treat is rather easy to prepare and I have been making it every Christmas for several years now. I make a big batch and give most of it away as gifts. I usually purchase Mason jars or some other festive canister to put the treats inside and tie a nice little ribbon on it. If you have made the nice list, you get one! If you have been naughty, well then you get something else. Lumps of coal perhaps.
For this blog, I made the Christmas Crackers three ways: 1) plain with a sea salt sprinkle, 2) M & M sprinkle, 3) white and milk chocolate swirl with dried cranberries and almonds.
I always use a tried-and-true recipe from Melissa Riker at The Happier Homemaker. Head over to https://thehappierhomemaker.com/christmas-crack/ if you want to make it, but don't leave me just yet.
Take a look at my Top 5 Tips When Making Christmas Crackers.
Top 5 Tips When Making Christmas Crackers
Use real butter. I repeat, USE 100% REAL BUTTER. Trust me on this. Besides, holiday calories do not count.
Be careful when boiling the butter and sugar. Keep a nice steady boil, but be watchful of splatters because, ouch!
Cool completely in the fridge. It must set and get firm. The wait is worth it.
Store in an airtight container.
Keep them refrigerated when not being snacked on. You don’t have to, but I like mine cold.
If you make a charcuterie board or the Christmas Crackers, upload a pic of your creation. I would love to see how it turned out. Until next time, stay safe, have a very Merry Christmas, and see you in the New Year!