In it’s simplest form, a cheese plate can be a few chunks of cheddar on a cutting board. There’s nothing wrong with that, but if you want a warm and inviting cheese experience for your guest, make a hot cheesy dip.
Photo by Matthew Packer.
A beautiful, bubbling, cheese dip is one of those indulgent dishes that is greater than both the sum of its parts and the effort required. It’s easy, but the key is balance. Soft, creamy cheeses such as ricotta and chevre can be be spooned and spread around in a crock, and then broiled until the top is nice and browned, but harder cheeses need a bit more care. Shredding a bunch of hard cheese into a dish will result in a greasy, congealed mess, so fatten up your dip with a few tablespoons of half & half, sour cream, or mayo.
Finally, you’ll need to decide on add-ins, which can be tossed in before or after broiling. For fresh mozzarella, slip some slices of tomato, basil leaves, or mushrooms in between thick slices of cheese before popping in the oven. For ricotta or fresh goat, try swirling in some tomato paste, olive tapenade, or crushed garlic. Chopped nuts, dried fruits, and a drizzle of honey, all make great after-oven additions, and you could always set out a whole bunch of toppings for your guests to sprinkle on their dip, allowing them to control their own cheesy destiny.