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Entertaining

When In Dessert Doubt, Make a Cheese Board

If you’re not much of a baker, a dessert cheese board is the perfect solution. 

Hosting a dinner party can feel overwhelming. You want everything to be perfect. From the appetizer, to the entree, to the. . . 

Dessert. Gulp.

Not much of a baker? No need to panic. Make a dessert cheese board instead. 

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Cheese for dessert is a wonderful way to round out a meal. Your guests won’t feel weighed down. It’s as easy as it is elegant. It’s also perfectly make-ahead friendly. 

So, what goes on a dessert cheese board? There’s no rules, exactly. Your menu can include (but isn’t restricted to) a few cheeses, roasted or grilled fruits, honeycomb, and some candied nuts. 

Let’s talk strategy. America’s Test Kitchen TV cast member and food stylist Elle Simone Scott has a few helpful tips: 

  • Set up shop. “Start by selecting your cheese. Anything goes here; I love rich, creamy cheeses like Saint-André, but you can try goat cheese drizzled in honey, a big wedge of blue, or even gouda. Whichever you choose, make the cheese the anchor point (I think just one cheese is best for this board), then arrange sections of fresh and dried fruit around the cheese. Fill in spaces with honey or jam, dark chocolate, and other fancy snacky things.” 


  • Get a head start. “Take cheese out of the refrigerator 1 to 2 hours ahead for the fullest flavor and texture. Grill peaches a day ahead and refrigerate. Make the nuts up to one week ahead and the seed brittle up to one month ahead.”


  • Make it special. “To give peaches or nectarines a kiss in a grill pan or on the grill, halve, pit, brush with a little oil, and then grill for about three minutes per side. And although you can use any sharp knife for the cheese, a cheese knife will make a cleaner cut, help prevent sticking, and look stylish to boot. The same knife can be used to slice the honeycomb (yes, you can eat the wax!).”


  • Dessert drinks. “I love to serve chilled Lillet, an aromatized fortified wine similar to vermouth. The Blanc is classic; it’s also available in Rosé and Rouge. Other great choices: On the lighter side, choose an off-dry German Riesling or a frizzante Moscato d’Asti. On the richer side, try ice wine, oloroso sherry, Tokaji, or Sauternes.”