Candy "Charcuterie" for Valentine's Day

 

Before we get to the fun, candy-filled, colorful stuff, I’d just like to get one teeny thing off my chest.

Which is that I’m sort of winging this thing.

This blog. Everything. All of it. Because there just aren’t many other Jewish lifestyle blogs out there for me to emulate. Nor is there any sort of rulebook for starting this kind of thing.

If there were, though, I’m pretttttty sure the very first instruction — capitalized and highlighted and starred and asterisk’d all over the place — would read something like this: “MAYBE DON’T POST A CHARCUTERIE RECIPE PARTICULARLY NOT IN THE FIRST WEEK OF YOUR EXISTENCE BUT ALSO LIKE EVER.”

…Ahem.

Well, friends, as I mentioned, there isn’t a rulebook. And that is how we come to find ourselves inside this blog post about, yes, charcuterie. Of the candy variety.

I’ve been sort of obsessed with the idea of a “dessert board” for a while now. It’s a fairly simple concept: candy and chocolate and sweets arranged artfully on a platter, modeled after the classic cheese plate. Talk about Instagram gold. Plus, it’s no-bake! And, of course, much like my foray into this realm of the blogging world, there aren’t any rules…much to my creative delight.

HALLELUJAH.

(Just figured I’d throw in a “hallelujah” to keep “charcuterie” company.)

Anyway.

In anticipation of a (very early!) Galentine’s night-in at my apartment in San Francisco, I picked up a ton of candy, dusted off my favorite marble cheese board, and got to work. And in a matter of minutes — twenty minutes, to be exact, painstakingly documented and time-lapsed in the video at the top of this post — I had a stunning dessert board of my very own.

*Sniff.* Isn’t she beautiful?

SHE IS. She’s beautiful.

So, let’s break down how I actually put this thing together, shall we? Because as soon as I made this thing, I wanted to shout the how-to from the rooftops. It’s so incredibly simple to throw together, the process is ultra-creative, and the pay-off is huge.

Did I mention it’s no-bake?! It’s NO-BAKE.

Brilliant.

  1. Select candies of similar colors.

I think one reason why this board works so well visually is the simple fact that there’s such a gorgeous cohesion to it. A ton of candy in different colors just wouldn’t be as striking…and it’s all about that “first look” wow factor. So, try to keep all the things on the board looking like they “go together.”

And naturally, depending on the holiday or occasion for which you’re making this, try to match that particular color scheme when you’re selecting colors for the candy…lest you should startle a group of unsuspecting houseguests by whipping out this very pink board on, say, Thanksgiving.

I mean, you do you.

2. Try to vary textures and types of candies.

In the board photographed here, I went with crunchy pretzels and round non-pareils, heart-shaped gummies, and a few whirly-twirly, old-school candies…plus tiny mini marshmallows, strawberries, and long and thin Pocky sticks (these, to me, felt most crucial when it came to varying the look of the whole thing). I did my best not to “repeat” the shape or size of any one of those so that the board wouldn’t look it was just overflowing with more and more of the same. I should add that you really never know if you’ll have a guest who doesn’t actually love sour candy (GASP), or one who’s avoiding pretzel-y carbs (the horror), and so on. So, it’s really just in your best interest to keep the types of snacks varied.

Kapeesh? Kapeesh.

Does anyone actually know how to spell that word?

Because I certainly do not.

Moving on.

3. Don’t be afraid to experiment and re-experiment and wipe the board clean and start over.

Here’s the thing: When you’re putting together a real cheese board, you don’t have much of a choice when it comes to shifting things around. Once the cheese is sitting there on the board, it’s either melting or crumbling or about to melt or crumble, and to move it elsewhere on the board would require a superhuman level of patience (and cleaning skills). But! In the case of the candy board, there’s no mistake too big. Or small. Hate how one of the candies looks? Rearrange it. Or take it off the board entirely. Hate the look of your entire board? Just…start over!

Iteration is key, friends. In life and in dessert.

4. Treat each element of the board as though it were part of a regular cheese board.

Case in point: those red sour belts (which, by the way, are hands-down the best candy on the planet, and if you don’t agree with me…you can just skedaddle). I could’ve just plopped them in the middle of the board in a little pile. But that felt wrong. Instead, I thought back to the cheese boards I’ve seen in photographs and restaurants and at people’s homes, and I decided to “fold” the sour belts in a zig-zag pattern back onto themselves in the same way that cured meats are often folded. Like prosciutto.

Honestly, should I just delete the blog now?

5. Pair with wine to keep things feeling adult.

Wine and candy. That’s adult, right?

Really, though, it’s a good idea to keep the rest of your get-together or date night or Galentine’s a little more sophisticated and grown-up — whether via an alcohol pairing, or chic decor touches, or a healthier pre-dessert meal. That way, this particular element will come across as a delicious, tongue-in-cheek dessert — and not a totally out-of-left-field shift into JUVENILITY.

You know.

Obviously, ignore this tip for kids’ parties. Duh. Please.

And that’s really all there is to it, you guys. I hope you go ahead and make this — whether for Valentine’s or Galentine’s or a baby shower or whatever. It’s such a fun, creative exercise and you get to eat candy at the end of it. Not much better than that. As always, leave a comment if you do end up making it — and share photos of your creations with me on Instagram!

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