the ultimate holiday cheeseboard.

EEK! Welcome to the Twelve Days of Christmas!

holidaycheeseboard1

As usual, I’m kicking the holidays off, and the first day of Christmas, with a delicious, holiday-inspired cheeseboard.  Or charcuterie. Call it whatever you will, all I can say is that I am so, so excited to be sharing this with you.

The star of the show here is the maple pecan baked brie.  It is too DIE for.  I mean, I won’t even judge you if you ate it all by yourself.  In less than two days.  As long as you don’t judge me for doing the same.

This brie has been baked until ooey gooey inside and then topped with maple glazed pecans.  Absolutely delish.  I ended up putting it into this cute little stoneware dish that I picked up from Walmart.  The dish came with some packets to mix up your own apple crisp, but instead of using the dish for what it was intended, my mind immediately thought of cheeseboards and brie.  Because who doesn’t want some baked brie on their holiday cheeseboard?

holidaycheeseboard2

I knew this cheeseboard also needed to be kid-friendly because if I’m serving cheese, there had better be something that Miss Audrey likes as well.  Since she was a big fan of the extra sharp white cheddar cheese I used on my summer cheese board, I knew that was a-go.  I also knew I wanted goat cheese, because this board needed some variety, and the added bonus with goat cheese is that it paired SO well with the cranberry butter I whipped up the day before.  And last, but not least, I cubed some Colby jack cheese because why not?  I knew Audrey was a fan and it took me down memory lane when cheeseboards at family gatherings consisted of a variety of cubed cheeses and sliced salamis.

My whole theme here was one of warmth.  So not only did there need to be baked brie, but there needed to be spice elsewhere. So, next on my list of must-haves were spicy candied walnuts!  Similar to my candied nuts I shared last year, these candy walnuts just WORKED.  After kicking up the cayenne pepper a notch, there was a perfect balance of sweet and spicy.  Instead of using a variety of nuts, I opted to just use walnuts because I had them on hand. I’m sure you can use whatever nut you’d prefer, though. I’m telling you guys – I took the leftovers to work the following Monday and my co-workers raved about them and devoured them so quickly.

If you remember when I shared my “how-to assemble an autumn-inspired cheeseboard“, the third step in assembling is to add some salty items.  On this board, I stuck with a fan-favorite of Genoa salami but I also wanted to kick up the spice factor again, and chose a thinly sliced chorizo.

When choosing items that are sweet, I wanted to have as much fruit as possible given the time of year.  Apple slices make a great vehicle for baked brie, grapes make a pretty routine cheeseboard appearance, and pomegranates just scream winter – plus they add some much needed color pops to the board.

I also wanted chocolate.  Because my ideal Christmas cheeseboard would have a lots and lots of chocolate.  For this board, I chose a salted caramel dark chocolate and a dark chocolate mint.

I’m telling you.  My favorite part of this board was probably the baked brie SMOTHERED on top of a sliced apple.  Or the cranberry butter drizzled on top of a whole wheat cracker smeared with goat cheese.  Or the extra-sharp white cheddar cheese dipped into said cranberry butter.  Or those spicy candied walnuts.

You know what?

I just love this entire freaking cheeseboard.


 

Slow Cooker Cranberry Butter

yields 1 pint

  • 1 (12 oz.) bag of fresh cranberries
  • 1/4 c. brown sugar
  • 1/2 c. orange juice

Add all of the ingredients in to the bowl of a 1 1/2-quart slow cooker.  Cook on low until cranberries have all burst, about 4-5 hours.  Once the cranberries are broken down, use an immersion blender to blend the cranberry mixture until smooth.  Continue to cook the fruit butter for an additional hour.  Once the cranberry butter has thickened slightly, turn the slow cooker off, and allow contents to cool.  The cranberry butter will continue to thicken as it cools.  Pour into glass mason jars or other containers.  Store in refrigerator until ready to serve.

 

Maple Pecan Baked Brie

  • 1 (8 oz.) brie round
  • 2 tbsp. maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 c. chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Place the brie in stoneware baking dish (or whatever type of dish you have) and bake for 15 minutes.

While the brie cooks, heat maple syrup, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small saucepan over low heat until sugar has dissolved.  Remove from heat and stir in pecans.

When brie has finished baking, remove from oven and pour the maple glazed pecans over top.  Serve immediately.

 

Spicy Candied Walnuts

  • 1 egg white
  • 2 tsp. vanilla extract
  • 1/2 c. granulated sugar
  • 1/2 c. brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. kosher salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 1 lb. walnuts

Preheat oven to 300 degrees F.

In a gallon Ziploc bag, add the granulated sugar, brown sugar, kosher salt, and cayenne pepper.  Set aside.

In a large bowl, add the egg white and whisk.  Add the walnuts to the bowl, and stir until the walnuts are completely coated with the egg white.  Pour the nuts into the Ziploc bag and shake until coated in sugar mixture.

Spread the nuts into a single layer on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake for 40 minutes, removing the walnuts and giving them a stir halfway through.

Remove the baking sheet from the oven and allow the baking sheet to cool until the nuts have reached room temperature.  The sugar coating will harden as the nuts are cooling.  Transfer the candied nuts to an air tight container and store until ready to use.

 

PAIR IT WITH: Let’s keep that warming theme going with the drink pairing as well. Heat up some Gluhwein, for a “cheerful warm glow”.  This drink hosts a blend of red wine that’s been infused with spices, such as cinnamon, cloves, oranges and lemons.  This should be a staple at any holiday gathering, especially when a cheeseboard is involved.

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