This is my idea of the best cheese platter. Whilst still very much a savoury affair, there are definite sweet notes that keep me and my sweet tooth very happy. You don’t have to make your own biscuits, though these Quinoa Flake Biscuits taste one hundred times better than they sound (just ignore the fact they have quinoa in them!). You must, however, include the sweet pickled strawberries. They are the nicest way I have ever eaten strawberries and go so well with the goats curd in particular that I think they end up being the hero of the whole platter.
The real honeycomb is also a real winner here, and this cheese platter has finally given me an opportunity to utilise it. I have searched for recipes that incorporate honeycomb, only to find cakes or sweets that are based on the lolly made using sugar and bicarb soda.
I read online during my search for recipes that used honeycomb that some people don’t like the texture of it. Maybe it’s the fact it tastes like honey but has a softly crunchy and chewy texture that throws people off, as if they are expecting to eat honey, the crunchy texture may seem strange. I had no problem with the texture and accompanied with some soft goats curd and the pickled strawberries and the crunch of the biscuits, added a welcome sweetness and chewy-ness. I would suggest buying a plain honeycomb, not a eucalyptus or lavender (etc) variety as any other flavours would overpower the rest of the cheese platter.
I have left off quantities for the actual cheese platter, as it depends how many people you want to feed. The quinoa flake biscuits last at least a week in an air tight container and the pickled strawberries last one week in the fridge, so they don’t all have to be consumed right away. I found we nibbled all week on the biscuits, goats curd, honeycomb and strawberries in particular, once we were home from work (and ruined our dinner appetites every time!), and were quite disappointed when we had eaten it all. This cheese platter would be a nice thing to bring out over the upcoming Easter long weekend to enjoy with guests, or just for a quiet evening to yourselves.
To Create My Ultimate Cheese Platter You Will Need:
Mejool dates, pits removed
Pears (I used the small paradise pears as they were in season)
Goats curd (goats cheese would work well too)
A nice blue cheese
A hard cheese such as parmesan or a nice aged cheddar
Quinoa flake biscuits
Shop bought wafer biscuits (or any other flavourless biscuit)
Serve with drinks, as an casual entree or even as an after dinner cheese course (in place of dessert).
Quinoa Flake Biscuits
125g quinoa flakes (found in the health food/gluten free section of the supermarket)
2 eggs, lightly beaten
250g caster sugar
2 tbsp plain flour
2 tsp baking powder
zest of one small/medium (or half a large) orange
Pre heat oven to 180 degrees Celsius, and line three baking trays with baking paper.
Melt the butter, then mix in with the quinoa flakes, sugar and eggs. Sift in the remaining dry ingredients and orange zest and mix until combined.
Using a teaspoon, place small balls of the mixture on to the trays, ensuring there is enough room for them to spread, because they will! I found I could have made mine even smaller after they spread so much in the oven!
Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until biscuits are golden. Remove from the oven and leave to cool on the trays or on wire racks.
185ml verjuice (Maggie Beer has a good verjuice in her range of products, many independent grocers and delis sell it)
100g caster sugar
1 vanilla bean
1tsp pink peppercorns
rind of one small/medium (or half a large) orange, peeled in larger chunks
Put the verjuice, sugar, water, orange rind and pink peppercorns into a small saucepan. Split the vanilla bean and add to the saucepan. Place on medium-high heat and bring to the boil. Stir occasionally to ensure the sugar dissolves.
Set verjuice mixture aside for 10 minutes or so to cool a little.
Hull and halve the strawberries (quarter if they are particularly big) and place into a large jar (about 1l capacity) or two smaller jars (about 500ml each, I used two 1 pint (around 470ml) Ball Mason jars).
Pour over the verjuice mixture and store pickled strawberries in the fridge.
References: Sophie Hansen of ‘Local is Lovely’ - http://local-lovely.com/sweet-pickles-the-whey-to-go/