1

5 Steps & 5 Tips To Make The Best Dessert Charcuterie Board

Rising in popularity are the revived, 15th century-French, meat-and-cheese boards. Charcuterie boards have spiraled into a massive trend on social media. Search for “charcuterie” on Instagram and find nearly one million results dedicated to snack sculptures of mindfully placed sliced cured meat, contrasting cheeses, artfully cut fruits and vegetables, and a scattering of nuts and olives. Everything intricately displayed on wooden boards. On Facebook there are hundreds of public and private groups dedicated to the art form. In this post, we follow this trend from its origins to it’s most modern form, providing a step-by-step guide and tips to make the perfect dessert-charcuterie board.

Brief History:

The word “charcuterie” (pronounced shahr-ku-tuh-ree) derives from the French words “chair” and “cuit”, translating to “cooked flesh”. Charcuterie first rose to prominence in the 1400s in France “to represent storefronts specializing in the preparation of pig and offal, at a time when shop owners weren’t allowed to sell uncooked pork.

“The owners of these shops, known as charcutiers, grew popular for their thoughtful meat preparation that helped establish stylized plates of “cooked flesh” as a part of French gastronomic culture. Over time, breads, cheeses, fruits, and vegetables joined the boards as accoutrements to the succulent meats, forming the charcuterie board as we know it today.”

 

Dessert Charcuterie Trend:

While “charcuterie” can equate to European luxury and sophistication, meat-and-cheese plates are no stranger to American social scenes, fueling party-goers and fending off hunger as restaurant appetizers. Today, social media has converted traditional boards into adaptable meal du-jours. 

It’s no longer about just cured meats and cheeses: Bagel or pancake-topped breakfast charcuterie boards, colorful candy charcuterie boards, and snack-attack charcuterie boards, will be the casual family artisanal DIY-meal.

Restaurants are taking advantage of the concept as an alternative to buffet displays, catering options, appetizers, and to-go menus. Small bite-sized pieces allow for portion control and share-ability, a concept that consumers are starting to get more comfortable with. Therefore, we’re providing some helpful tips on how to build a tasteful and aesthetically pleasing dessert-charcuterie board. 

 

Steps:

The fascination with charcuterie boards has less to do with the specifics of what’s on the plate, and more with the visual appeal of the whole. A satisfying DIY experience, you can tailor to fit any theme, and there is always something for everyone. Learn a few easy techniques on how to put together a well-crafted dessert charcuterie board that’s perfect for sharing with family and friends!

First, let’s start with the basics. Here’s what you’ll be including in your dessert-charcuterie board:

1. The platter – a.k.a. the foundation of your board

2. Selection of desserts – your main attraction

3. Spreads & Sauces – to make each bite unique

4. Fruits & Nuts – something for everyone

5. Garnishes – for visual appeal and to cleanse your palate

 

Tips

Contrasting Flavors

To build a delectable smorgasbord, you’ll want to choose contrasting flavors. This allows for every bite to be individualized and unique. For instance, your board should include sweet, without omitting salty, savory or even umami. Balance the board with citrus, chocolate, cheese, nuts, toffee, and fruity flavors, so there’s something for all taste buds. Try Chili Chocolate Sauce, salted Toffee Blondie bites, spiced pistachios, blueberry compote, cheesecake bites with grilled pear and caramel sauce, for example. Add a side of candied ginger to cleanse the palate.

 

 

Textured

Additionally, it’s a good idea to provide a variety of textures on your board, yielding different sensational experiences. Therefore, to please all the senses, add something crunchy, chewy, smooth, creamy, and crispy. Our dessert-charcuterie board includes chewy options, like a fudgy brownie; something with a crunch, like a toffee blondie; and something smooth, like a velvety cheesecake.

Charcuterie boards are most appealing when they’re perceived as abundant with texture and color. So we suggest filling gaps with fruit and nuts, and adding height and dimension where you can. Stack items in a big pile, but space out similar flavor profiles and colorful items, as to not crowd the dish, generating balance and contrast. 

Balance: Health & Indulgence

Sporting all those rich dessert flavors, you’re going to need fresh healthful items to balance out your board. For example, accent your display with fresh-cut herbs like sage or rosemary; a variety of crunchy nuts, like pistachios and walnuts; and sliced fruit like apples, or a bowl of brightly colored berries. The idea is to choose items that can cut through rich flavors, or cleanse the palate in between bites.

 

Flares of Color & An Empty Pantry:

We eat with our eyes first. That is to say that you’ll want to incorporate an array of colors like red, purple, yellow and green, to contrast the tones of brown in your dessert selection. Have fun and keep your display exciting by using a variety of pigments. In other words, paint with your food!

However, the hidden gem to charcuterie boards, is that they’re also a great way for restaurants to utilize their unused LTO-fixings. Take advantage of left-over ingredients in your pantry. Maybe a specialty sauce used on the drink list, remaining seasonal fruit, or other residual elements in your kitchen can help your board reach the next level. You can be creative, by scattering remnant scraps to create shape and structure within your board.

Find Your Zen

Lastly, don’t forget to bask in the meditative benefits of putting together a carefully crafted charcuterie board. This artistic practice can be an important form of self-care, but with edible results!

 

In conclusion, dessert-charcuterie is here for the long haul. “We expect charcuterie demand will keep growing at a steady pace in 2021, as it remains on trend for high quality, flavorful, convenient meal solutions suitable for snacking, sandwiches, and easy at-home entertaining,” Bigi said. “The range of charcuterie continues to grow from both domestic and imported suppliers, with plenty of snacking and multi-component items entering the market.” Something so fun and exciting in the world of food, that’s ideal for snacking, romantic date nights, and any occasion in between, makes charcuterie the ideal food trend with staying power.

 

Resources:

https://www.mashed.com/263305/the-real-reason-charcuterie-boards-are-so-popular/?utm_campaign=clip 

https://www.businessinsider.com/charcuterie-millennial-social-media-phenomenon-2020-1 




5 Food Trends Here to Stay in 2021

In many ways, the trends of 2021 will pick up where 2020 food trends were expected to go before they were disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Since the emerging food trends predicted for last year went into a kind of hibernation, that’s a good starting point for what we’ll see this year. 

That said, 2021 still has its own trend identity, one that is shifting in the second half of the year. Right now, consumers are looking to improve their health, and get back on track. As more people are vaccinated, and feeling safer to venture out, we are seeing them seek out new trends and experiences again. This means striking a balance between indulgence and healthfulness, comfort with a specific awareness of ingredients.

Comfort food

After the year and a half we’ve had, a desire for comfort food comes as no surprise. In fact, 57% of consumers say they’re interested in more comfort food trends this year—second only to health trends, says Mike Kostyo, trendologist for Datassential.

Instead of restaurateurs struggling to find eccentric ingredients or new promotions, 2021 will focus on getting back a sense of balance. People want to gather around the table, socialize and feel safe—so rather than obsessing over a rare new super-food, restaurants will move forward by providing guests with feel-good food and genuine hospitality, filling the need for comfort and warmth during these extraordinary times. 

“For 2021 the trends will go towards comfort and simplicity. This is due to the pandemic, and everyone looking for a sense of comfort and normalcy. Unfortunately, restaurants are also just trying to survive and have limited resources and staffing now, so that will also impact what we all do moving into 2021.” — Michael Schulson, chef and founder of Schulson Collective

Flavor & the Menu’s Dessert Flavor-focus Report speaks to the need of familiar, yet imaginative and translates well into to-go offerings, highlighting a beloved treat – the churro. Head to our recipe page for a spin on this classic.

 

Specific Spices & Ingredients

 

Consumers are paying extra-close attention to functional foods, looking for specialty spices on menus. In previous years. Now, the trend for specific spices and ingredients has expanded into front of pack claims for other spices, alliums, fruits and vegetables, like black garlic rather than just garlic. The desire for specific ingredients ties into the macro trend for transparency across the supply chain as consumers want to know more about the foods and flavors they are eating and the craving for uniqueness.

Consumers have an increased interest in their consumption habits, and the storytelling of the products they purchase. This story may include twists on traditional flavors, understanding the cooking techniques that add depth of flavor, or stories built for specific transparency in the products. Examples like Madagascar Bourbon Vanilla, Peruvian Chocolate, or Saigon Cinnamon can be found in our indulgent desserts.

 

Individual Portions

Not all dessert trends involve exciting new combinations of flavors, and one of the most well-represented trends you’ll be seeing as we move forward with 2021 will be the prevalence of individual desserts that go a step beyond the traditional approach of selling slices of cakes, pies, and cheesecakes. In 2009, the National Restaurant Industry’s survey results showed 83% of chefs stating mono-portion desserts were the next big thing in pastry. Restaurants will want to shift desserts and other food items crafted for ease of portability while still delivering on taste and quality.

Individually portioned and wrapped desserts are ideal to cater to this trend.

 

 

Nostalgia Is King

Dessert has always served as a safe haven for diners, a soft landing at the end of a meal where favorite indulgences await. Those pre-covid days were a distant memory for us all and now, people are craving what connects them to life before lockdowns. We’re seeing a rise in flavors that reflect comfort and nostalgia, as most people attach certain flavors to their childhood. Of course, that familiarity doesn’t mean that the dessert category lacks imagination. Cookies jam-packed with cereal have cafe visitors reminiscing of Saturday morning cartoons. Chocolate-chunk cookies remind us of laughing and baking with grandma. S’mores toppings can bring anyone back to sitting around the fire and sharing stories with dear friends.  

 

Shareables: Dessert Charcuterie Boards

Hot on the heels of jarcuterie, and mail-order charcuterie boards, Pinterest predicts that fancy boards with unique toppings will continue to rise in popularity throughout 2021. However, it’s no longer about just cured meats and cheeses: Bagel or pancake-topped breakfast charcuterie boards, colorful candy charcuterie boards, and snack-attack charcuterie boards will be the casual family meal du jour. Restaurants are taking advantage of the concept as an alternative to buffet displays, catering options, appetizers, and to-go menus. Small bite-sized pieces allow for portion control and share-ability, a concept that consumers are starting to get more comfortable with, again.

“Charcuterie has taken off for many reasons, but one reason is because it’s highly visual. It’s all over social media and the internet, and Millennials in particular reported even more impact on their diets from influencers and social media over the course of the pandemic,” says Sarah Marion, Ph.D., a Seattle, Washington-based director of syndicated research for the market research company Murphy Research. “Back in January a little more than a quarter of Millennials rated influencers and social media networks very influential on their eating habits. As social lives moved online, this number went up, hitting a high point of 41% in September and is currently sitting around 37%.” Searches for breakfast boards went up five-fold, dessert boards three-fold and Mexican charcuterie boards nearly two-fold from 2019 to 2020, according to Pinterest Business.

 

Full-service restaurants have opened their doors to welcome back customers, in what has proved to be a challenging environment, yet we are still seeing the strength, flexibility and innovation shining through. While consumer-needs evolve, restaurants strive to adapt and comfort, and set new trends for all to cherish.

 

Resources: Restaurant Dive ; Food & Wine ; Better Homes & Gardens