chocolate &

CHEESE CANAPéS

Extra dark chocolate is a great tiny stage for cheeses, nuts and dried fruits to create unforgettably delicious hors d'oeuvres

Remember parties? Yup. We do too. And we miss them. But there’s no reason why we can’t create our own little parties for one, or small, safe and socially distant gatherings in places where vaccination rates are up and restrictions are easing. We put together these lovely little bites to go with a glass of wine and good conversation. Super simple to make and so pretty and festive, we’ll walk you through setting up these crunchy, creamy, slightly sweet, salty, nutty delights.

When we first moved to Vermont, we had lots of gatherings and loved putting out a festive spread of cheeses, fruits, nuts and small bites for friends to enjoy with a glass of wine or beer. Working chocolate into these tidbits was fun, experimenting with layering sweet, savory, sour, nutty, bitter and piquant flavors, finding complimentary and contrasting notes that excited our tastebuds. Here are some ideas from past experiments that we still enjoy today:

Do ahead

make the chocolate medallions:

Use the best chocolate you can source, one with high cacao content. We like to use 70-80% dark chocolate for these bites.

Set up your double boiler by filling a small saucepan with a few inches of water. Place the top pot of the double boiler or a metal bowl slightly larger than the pan over the saucepan filled with water. The water should not touch the bottom of the pan/bowl.

Chop the chocolate into small pieces about the size of a quarter and place in the top pot or metal bowl.

On your stovetop, heat on medium so as the water warms and creates steam it gently melts the chocolate, stirring the chocolate occasionally until it is glossy and liquid.

Set up a cookie sheet with parchment paper and get out a teaspoon.

Spoon the chocolate onto the parchment, letting it pool, creating circular medallions about the size of a half dollar.

Refrigerate keeping the cookie sheet flat until the chocolate has set, for about 15-20 minutes until solid.

macerate fruits:

Place dried fruits in a jar and pour liqueur over the top until covered by about 1/2 inch. Put lid on jar and let the fruit soak for a few hours or overnight on your countertop. Leftover macerated fruit can be refrigerated for a few months.

•figs soaked in marsala wine or pommeau (apple brandy)

•dried plums (prunes) soaked in brandy

•dried grapes (raisins) or dried bananas (cut into bite-sized chunks) soaked in rum

•lemon, grapefruit or orange peel soaked in grand marnier

•dried apple soaked in spiced crème de cacao

Gather

fruits & nuts

dried apricots, figs, dates, apples, pears, or any other fruit

fresh berries

black olives

toasted hazelnuts, pistachios, almonds, pecans

cheeses

chèvre

bleu cheese

crème fraîche

cheddar

taleggio

finishing herbs & zest

fresh herbs like basil, thyme, mint

lemon zest

flake sea salt

pink and black peppercorn

drizzles

warm honey

maple syrup

caramel sauce or cajeta

Assemble

Start with the cheese as a base on top of the dark chocolate, and then build by adding macerated or dried fruits, then nuts, then a drizzle if using dried or fresh fruit, and finally a dusting of fresh herbs or zest. Serve soon after making with chilled wine or bubbly, or craft beer and an array of cheeses and fruits.

Here are some combinations we have served at gatherings that you might enjoy trying while building your bites:

•chèvre, pistachio, pink peppercorn, rose petal and honey

•blue cheese, macerated plum, pecan

•taleggio, black olive, marcona almond, lemon zest, basil

•crème fraîche, fresh berries, hazelnut, caramel or cajeta

•cheddar, apple and pear slice, thyme, maple syrup

There’s no wrong way to do it! Think of flavor and texture combinations you enjoy, weaving crunchy, nutty, zesty, funky, and fruity together.

Cheers!