FRESH Ideas for Christmas Entertaining

You’ve probably seen it on social media. The latest trend in food is butter boards. So easy to do and the perfect opportunity to get creative with your favorite flavors and topping. Simply made with dollops of room temperature butter spread onto a board then topped with different seasonings, sauces or condiments to make it sweet or savory.  Serve with toasted baguette slices, crackers or flatbread so that everyone can dig into the spread.

Something like this can be done so many ways and with the Christmas season upon us, we are all looking for fun ways to entertain. I decided to take the butter board idea one step further. Instead of just butter, why not use cream cheese, hummus, Nutella, frosting or peanut butter.

Here are a few tips if you decide to indulge the trend and make your own board creation:

Clean Board: This goes without saying, but sometimes our boards can harbor smells and/or bacteria. If you’ve been using your board for chopping it very likely smells like garlic or onions and that flavor wouldn’t blend well with a sweet-flavored butter board. Wash the board with soap and water and let it dry. Then if you still detect an odor, sprinkle the board with coarse salt, cut a lemon in half and use 1/2 a lemon, cut side down, to scrub the board and deodorize. Let the mixture sit on the board for 5 minutes and then wash the board again with soap and water. Even if you’re using a new board, be sure to wash it well. Also, ensure the board is food-safe and the wood is untreated.

Flavorful Base: Whatever you’re using as the base is the star of the board. Generic unsalted butter doesn’t have much flavor. Buy salted butter or splurge on a European or grass-fed butter. You can also bring your butter to room temperature and stir in flavorings like salt, pepper, herbs or roasted garlic.  

How to Spread: If using cream cheese or butter, let it come to room temperature. It is easier to spread and blend with other flavors you might stir into your base. Spread multiple layers for thickness and use a spoon or butter knife to make swirls.

Sweet Toppings: Honey, fresh fruit, jam, sprinkles, crushed candy, dried fruit or white/dark chocolate.

Savory Toppings: Fresh/dried herbs, edible flowers, chopped chiles, chile flakes, roasted red peppers, pesto sauce, sauteed sliced garlic, slivered onions, chopped nuts, sea salt, citrus zest, crushed peppercorns, Sriracha, chili paste, jalapeno jelly, chopped olives, grated or crumbled cheese, extra virgin olive oil, balsamic glaze.

Dippers: Depending on the base and topping you choose the dipping options are endless. There are many sweet and savory breads in the bakery at FRESH that would be perfect for a butter board. Also, any loaf can be sliced for you by the bakery staff.  If you’re doing cream cheese, hummus or another savory option then crackers, bagel chips, flatbread or vegetables could be served. For a sweet board, shortbread or wafer cookies, strawberries or ladyfingers are a fun idea for dipping.

Shapes: Spread the butter in the shape of a heart, wreath, tree or a number or letter would be fun for a birthday party. My Christmas cream cheese board in the shape of a tree was topped with a cranberry relish, lemon zest, pink peppercorns and fresh rosemary.

Cream Cheese Christmas Tree Board

  • 1 to 2 (8 oz) containers cream cheese spread
  • 1 cup fresh cranberries, chopped fine
  • 1/2 jalapeno, seeded and chopped fine
  • 2 Tbs sugar
  • 1 Tbs fresh parsley leaves
  • 1 tsp lemon zest
  • 1/2 tsp pink peppercorns, crushed
  • 1/4 tsp flake sea salt
  • 2 to 3 sprigs fresh rosemary
  • Assorted crackers, for serving

Using a butter knife, add dollops of cream cheese to a clean, food-safe board. Begin shaping and spreading the cream cheese to form a tree. Add another layer to ensure the cheese is thick enough for dipping.

To make the cranberry relish, stir together the cranberries, jalapeno, sugar and parsley.  Sprinkle the mixture over the cream cheese. Add the lemon zest, peppercorns and sea salt. Finish with torn pieces of fresh rosemary. Serves with crackers.

To top