Spooky Charcuterie (& Jarcuterie) Is Very Much a Thing This Halloween
Over the past year, we’ve proven that you can apply the Bubba Gump principle to charcuterie: You’ve got fruicuterie boards, breakfast boards, hot chocolate charcuterie boards (also known as hot chocuterie), tapas boards, even dogcuterie boards for your pets. Even COVID couldn’t squelch our love of foods spread out on a tray for grazing—suddenly, single-serving “jarcuterie” became a thing. It’s no wonder that after analyzing its user data, Pinterest declared these boards “the new avo toast.” And, as the weather turns colder, you better believe there’s a festive, candy-focused spin on the trend: Introducing spooky charcuterie, the treat board designed to take your Halloween party to the next level (even if it’s just your pod).
While charcuterie classically refers to arranging a bunch of cured meat, this variation is more aligned with trick-or-treating, focusing on an array of sweet and salty snacks. (Though you can totally throw in some meat and cheese for good measure.) “Since it’s Halloween-themed, you can have so much more fun with it,” says Amber Kemp-Gerstel, the DIY blogger behind Damask Love and season one of Making It, who partnered with HomeGoods to create Halloween DIYs, including this Spooky Charcuterie. Here are her tricks for creating a treat board that’s every bit as memorable as last year’s candy clothesline (only a lot less time consuming).
1. Be All About that Base
Sure, you could stick to a plain old cutting board, but where’s the fun in that? A spooky charcuterie board makes for an easy centerpiece for your party, and the right plating goes a long way. Corrugated metal trays can create a Frankenstein vibe; a more ornate, ceramic platter could skew Victorian haunted house. Our pick: a dark wood lazy Susan that guests can spin, so they’re not leaning all over the food to reach their favorite treats.
Similarly, if you’re going the jarcuterie route, Kemp-Gestel suggests using mismatched cups. “That lends to the Halloween feel—it might give it more of a mad laboratory feel,” she says.
2. Aim for a Salty-Sweet-Chewy-Crunchy Mix
With a traditional cheese board, you often want a mix of soft and hard cheeses, buttery flavors and salty ones. Here, it’s more about the salty-sweet and chewy-crunchy blend. Think chocolate-dipped pretzels, gummies, sour candy, popcorn, cookies, trail mix—just enough variety so that guests don’t slip into a sugar coma (or beg for water) as they inhale your treats.
3. Stick to a Defined Color Palette
The difference between a messy pile of junk food and something you can’t wait to ‘gram comes down to two things: (1) a defined color palette for said treats, and (2) how they’re arranged. Choose two or three main colors to feature throughout your board. Since Kemp-Gerstel’s son loves black licorice—and because it’s so fitting for the holiday—black became a primary color in her display.
To find unexpected treats to feature—particularly ones in specific colors—the blogger ventures beyond grocery store aisles. HomeGoods has become a go-to for gummies and seasonal treats she can’t find anywhere else.
4. Try the Plates Trick to Know How Much Food to Buy
It can be hard to visualize just how much food you’ll need to fill (and restock) your board throughout a Halloween party. That’s why Kemp-Gerstel recommends starting with your plates: Pick up as many as you’ll need for your guests, and picture needing to fill those up. That way, you won’t buy just enough to fill your tray…and wind up making a dash to the store for more treats one hour in.
Shop Our Spooky Charcuterie Must-Haves:
5. If You’re Doing Jarcuterie, Layering Matters (Big Time)
These single-serving containers require a bit more planning. “People have to dig a little to get to the treats,” Kemp-Gerstel says, adding that it can be helpful to add a small serving fork to each so people can easily stab what they want, rather than fish around for it. Oh, and if you’re serving anything with a dip or sauce—say, pretzels and cookies with caramel—put that on the bottom of the jar, then arrange the pretzels and other snacks vertically on top. A gummy kebab is a fun touch too.
6. Top it Off with Something Fun
Your board doesn’t have to be all food. Faux spiders, “potion” bottles or skeleton hand round out the look with minimal effort. You’ve got enough on your to-do list without having to carve tiny jack-o-lantern faces out of grapes.