No matter the plans you have to ring in the new year, a cheeseboard always has a place at the party. Back when life was normal, I loved to plan a party noshing menu around a cheeseboard. It’s an elegant and satisfying way to feed a group and allows room for a few other dishes to round out the offerings without so much cooking.
A great cheeseboard can be made of a few basic, go-to items, and then filled out with rotating accompaniments like seasonal fruit or a new brined item. I love that a cheeseboard looks so appealing and awe-inspiring, but can be assembled right out of the fridge, 10 minutes before your guests are scheduled to arrive.
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Growing up, we would plan our New Year’s Eve “party” for our family and a few friends and go totally overboard on the snacks. No joke, we would completely outnumber appetizers to people at least 2 to 1. We loved to fill the dining room table with all sorts of different dishes, and when I say fill, I mean it. We never had a free corner on the table. And each year when we planned the menu, the first item that always made the list was a cheeseboard and baked brie.
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An Epic New Year’s Eve Cheeseboard
Now, before I share the easiest, most delicious recipe for baked brie, I want to share with you the “formula” for an epic cheeseboard.
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This little tidbit of information will help you to create an awesome spread no matter if you’re feeding 3 in your quarantine bubble, or 13 in post-covid times (because it will happen! Phew!).
- 0.25 lb aged Mimolette
- 0.3 lb Cypress Grove Humboldt Fog
- 0.3 lb Roquefort
- 0.5 lb Drunken goat cheese
- 0.5 lb D’Affinois triple crème brie (or baked brie!)
- 3 oz prosciutto
- 4 oz soppressata, sliced
- 2 types of seasonal fruit
- 0.5 lb cornichons
- 4 oz salami Calabrese, sliced
- 0.5 lb Marcona almonds
- 0.5 lb green Cerignola or Castelvetrano olives
- 7 oz Orange Blossom Honey
- 16 oz dark chocolate sea salt caramels
- 1 package Raincoast Crisps, Crisp Apricot Lemon Fig
- 1 package Sir Richards, Cracker Gallettine Olive Oil
- 1 package Firehook Baked Crackers, Rosemary Sea Salt
- Using an extra-long or large square cutting board, place each cut of cheese into 1/5th of the board, creating and anchoring sections on the board.
- Next, arrange each type of cured meat next to each cheese, breaking up some of the larger packages into two placements.
- Fill in and connect each section by using the accompaniments to create a bite flow. This helps suggest to noshers what to pair together in any given bite. For example, the honey would pair nicely with the Drunken Goat, so I’ve placed them together on the board. This doesn’t mean the honey can’t be enjoyed with other cheeses or bites, but rather encourages a flow of tastes!
- Crackers can help fill in each section and draws the eye into each cheese. Place them directly on the board, or in small cups or dishes around the board.
Homemade Baked Brie
I truly don’t know what it is, but baked brie to me is the epitome of a New Year’s Eve appetizer. I hardly make it any other time of year, and when I do, I am instantly nostalgic for the holiday season.
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I guess it’s that it feels hearty and warming, comforting and festive. Plus, it’s a total crowd pleaser and pretty easy to make. Especially with any leftover pie dough, you may have in the freezer from Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner.
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- 12 oz all-purpose flour, chilled (340g)
- 8 oz salted butter, cubed then frozen (2 sticks of butter or 226g)
- 4 oz ice water
- 1 wheel of triple crème brie (at least 7 oz., no smaller), the top side’s white rind trimmed away
- 0.25 cups cherry preserves
- 1 egg, beaten
- In a medium bowl, mix together chilled flour and butter by using your fingers to squish and flatten each butter cube into the flour until a coarse mixture is achieved.
- Using a tablespoon, add the ice water 1-2 tablespoons at a time, mixing after each addition. Please note that you may need less or more ice water than is called for, it can vary any given time you make a crust. Once a crumbly sort-of dough, that is free of any dry flour but not even close to wet, comes together turn the dough out onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use your hands to form a ball and wrap it tightly in the plastic. Chill for at least 45 minutes and begin to preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
- Once the dough has chilled, roll it out into a ¼” thick circle (and slightly thinner towards the edges). If the dough starts to peel away from itself or if butter spots become loose, chill the dough again for a few more minutes before you continue handling. I like to roll mine out on my silicone mat so I can easily transfer it onto a baking sheet and into the fridge if this happens.
- Place the brie wheel down in the center point of the rolled dough. Using a paring knife cut a circle around the brie about 2-3” away from the wheel, saving the discarded dough for later. Cut large tabs into the circle of dough to create fold layers.
- Dollop about ¼ cup of cherry preserves onto the top of the brie, careful to leave it in the center of the wheel and off of the edges.
- Begin to peel each dough slice up and over the brie, working in a clockwise motion, fanning the dough around the wheel. Trim off any excess dough from each slice as needed to keep the crust manageable. It’s okay if the pattern starts to lose itself on the top, just so long as the side stays layered and tightly closed. Once you have the entire brie wrapped, use kitchen shears to trim away excess dough on top. Here you can be pretty generous with what you take away. Use your hands to cup and gently press the dough together to seal any open seams.
- Roll out excess dough into a ¼” thick disc. Using mini letter cookie cutters, cut “NYE” and the year into the disc, or whatever design you want! Place the disc over the top, trimmed dough of the bake brie wheel. Press to seal. Poke tiny vents into the top of the brie through the letter cut-outs to prevent a break in the sides as the brie cooks.
- Beat the egg. Using a pastry brush, apply the egg wash into every crevice and corner of the brie. Drop the oven temperature down to 350 degrees and bake for about 45 minutes, or until the crust is golden and seeps of brie and cherry escape and bubble. Feel free to turn on the broiler at the end to add a touch more color.
- Cool slightly and serve!