How to create the perfect cheese platter

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cheese platter

(NC)—A creative cheese plate is  a crowd-pleaser during the holidays and better still, it is simple to prepare and it doesn't take up any space in your oven.

These steps will help you create the perfect cheese platter to surprise your guests with tempting varieties and new taste experiences:

Get creative with the platter. A party plate is fine, but you might also use a wooden board, a slab of marble, or a piece of slate.

Choose a variety of cheeses including a soft-ripened cheese, or 'bloomy rinds' as they're also known.  Then, add a semi-soft cheese, like gouda or havarti. You'll also need hard/firm cheeses like manchego or pecorino.  And for more tangy option add a goat's milk cheese. Round out the spectrum of flavours with a washed rind cheese and a blue cheese.

Get your quantities right. For a party platter, appetizer or dessert cheese plate, serve a small crowd 3 to 5 types of cheese and 5 to 10 types for a larger crowd. Calculate for approximately 30 to 40g of each cheese per person.  To ensure variety, try mini versions of some crowd-pleasing favourites, such as mini Brie Hors D'oeuvres and enhance with toppers, such as red pepper jelly, pesto or sliced peaches.

Don't forget the accompaniments.  Fruits like fig, pear and apple are always enjoyable, but dried fruits work well too. Add unsalted roasted nuts and fresh bread and complete your platter with honey, fruit compotes and pickled vegetables.

Serve with care. Always prepare your platter in advance, lay out appropriate knives and let your cheese sit at room temperature for at least one hour before serving.

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