Everywhere you look—both in stores or online—one thing is pretty clear: this is the season for all things sweet. Whether it's cookies, cakes, chocolate bark, gingerbread houses, or hot chocolate bombs, sugar reigns supreme.
But this year things are changing, a little at least.
If you prefer the savory side of things, you’re in for a real treat. We’ve seen gingerbread houses that look like castles, cheese boards shaped like turkeys, and other whimsical foods that look almost too good to eat. But one food trend we did not see coming was the charcuterie chalet.
Created with beams of pretzels, salami shingles, goat cheese snowmen, and more, people are taking the charcuterie chalet challenge and creating a treat that can rival the iconic gingerbread houses. Some use cream cheese to hold the crackers together while others go a sweet route and dabbled with caramel.
Safely Preparing Charcuterie Chalets
Nicole Easterday of FARMcurious understands some of the hesitations you might have while creating and consuming such a communal piece of art. Unlike a gingerbread house that stays out for days, charcuterie chalets are supposed to be consumed right after assembly. She said people have expressed their concerns about how much the food must have been touched during assembly. "...Wearing tight-fitting food safe gloves are a great idea," she says, adding "the importance of hand washing can't be overstated, and for goodness sake, don't lick your fingers!”
We spoke with six charcuterie chalet creators for tips and inspiration for building these seasonal treats. The one thing they have in common? They had a great time constructing the chalets, and an even better time devouring them.
01 of 06
Frosty the Cheeseman
When we saw Nicole Easterday's creation on FARMcurious we instantly fell in love. The details are so creative and thoughtful. She made a Laura Chenel Black Truffle Chèvre snowman with a prosciutto hat and scarf, a wreath made from broccoli and romanesco, holiday lights with freeze-dried strawberry and pineapple pieces, and sidewalk pea gravel made with wasabi peas.
Everything on her charcuterie chalet board is edible. What really sets this board apart is the snowman. “I loved the way the little snowman turned out,” Easterday says. “For people who don't have the patience to build a charcuterie chalet, the snowman was so easy with a really big payoff. You could pop him on the top of a round of brie and appear totally genius.”
02 of 06
The charcuterie team at Valbella Gourmet Foods says finding the right products that wouldn't spoil was their biggest challenge, so they went to cured meats and added some supports. “We used cream cheese and a shrink wrap on cardboard for the structure, which worked well,” the Valbella team says. For the cabin's main sides, "we used Rohess Speck, our speciality here at Valbella. It’s a double smoked bacon,” the team says. Yum. And the best part has to be the landjaeger sausage fence.
03 of 06
Walk Down a Snowy Broccoli Lane
Marissa Mullen, owner of That Cheese Plate and creator of the Cheese by Numbers method (a step-by-step guide to building a beautiful cheese plate), rose to the challenge of creating a charcuterie chalet. She found the challenge easier than expected. “I used whipped cream cheese in a piping bag for my glue, and assembled a pre-made gingerbread house,” says Mullen. “The gingerbread actually acted as a nice spiced pairing with the cheese and meat!” Instead of the full salami shingled roof, Mullen took a different approach and alternated salami and brie.
When layering the shingles, cut the brie into thin slices and slice the salami in half to create less weight on the roof. – Marissa Mullen
Her favorite pairings from the chalet:
- Brie, raspberries, honey almonds, and gingerbread
- Goat cheese, salami, and broccoli
- Cheddar and salami on a pretzel
04 of 06
Oh Rosemary Tree, Oh Rosemary Tree
Kara Gire and Brittney Varner of mom-owned @the.board.pnw hopped on the charcuterie chalet bandwagon and created a scrumptious chalet and some good laughs. Like other creators, the most challenging part was getting the structure to hold up. They ended up getting extra creative and resourceful. “We used the empty [breadstick] box cut in half on the inside, as something for our walls to stick to,” they say. After, they used herbed chevre as the mortar between the Alessi grissini breadstick logs. “Wasa crackers and salami were used for the roof, mushroom caps as pots for our rosemary trees, rosemary wreath with pomegranate seeds, parmesan cheese snow, wasabi peas for walkway stones, and Irish porter cheese sidewalk.”
While it was fun to build, they enjoyed devouring their venture just as much: “It was a cry-worthy laugh watching it all come crashing down! We ate it all! It's sacrilege to waste good meat and cheese!”Continue to 5 of 6 below.
05 of 06
O’ Pomegranate Lights
When Fig & Honey Grazing was asked to create a charcuterie chalet as a gift, they delivered. If you’re using a cardboard foundation, beware of the cream cheese. “The hardest part was that the moisture from the cream cheese was softening the cardboard and almost caved in,” the team says. “We reinforced it with skewers and it was all good!” Cream cheese and pub cheese is a great base for applying cracker siding and salami shingles. “It’s really sticky so your ingredients will easily stay put,” they say.
We love how the pomegranate jewels look sprinkled across the front of the house like sparkling holiday lights.
06 of 06
Cheese Dust Roasting by an Orange Fire
MaryCharlotte Buck was hesitant to create a version after she saw the trend, and then she eventually gave in. Hers "has some parmesan snow, an orange jelly fire outside, salami shingles and whatever was left of my remaining sanity,” she says.
While Buck serves up a mean charcuterie board for her friends and family, and even sells some locally, she was faced with a few challenges when it came to constructing the house. “I couldn’t get the roof to stay on with graham crackers, so I ended up using Brewer’s Crackers and created a true chalet-style A-frame roof.” To hold the structure together, she used caramel instead of honey, which typically pairs better with cheese and meat. Buck put the structure in the freezer to harden the caramel which helped when it came to decorating. The best part? The little orange jelly first in the front: “It’s hard to tell what it’s supposed to be, but I love it!”