Charcuterie Chalets Kick Gingerbread Houses To The Curb

Gingerbread houses have been a popular holiday tradition for hundreds of years, dating all the way back to the 16th century. In fact, their popularity in German households inspired the Brothers Grimm tale of Hansel and Gretel, in which the evil witch's house is made of cookies and candy.

Today, gingerbread houses are still fun to make, but let's face it — unless you're a kid, they're not that fun to eat. The cookies turn stale, the gumdrops are cemented in stiff, super-sweet white frosting, and it's impossible to take a single piece of candy off without tearing the whole thing apart. If you're planning to thrown a grown-up dinner party for the holidays, you should forego the gingerbread house and opt for a charcuterie chalet instead. These goofy little sculptures are a savory take the classic holiday tradition, made from deli meats, cheeses, and other salty snacks formed into the shape of a charming cottage. They can't sit out as long as gingerbread houses do, but they're way easier and more pleasant to eat, and make the perfect eye-catching centerpiece for a Christmas appetizer spread.

How to make a charcuterie chalet

Making a charcuterie chalet requires careful attention to structure, since cured meats and cheese tend to be more moist and less sturdy than dry gingerbread and gluey icing. Most recipes recommend using a cardboard base spackled with cream cheese in lieu of a gingerbread plank covered in frosting. You can then layer your meats and cheeses on top of that (though technically, as a take on a charcuterie board, the cheese is optional).

Feel free to get creative in assembling your chalet. Make tiny trees out of broccoli or rosemary, lay out a cracker walkway, use beef sticks as building logs, or make a snowman out of balls of fresh mozzarella. Opt for a variety of essential cured meats, whether you prefer prosciutto or pepperoni, and slice them thinly so they don't collapse under their own weight. You can also layer alternating slices of cheese and meat like shingles on your charcuterie roof so that guests can easily skewer them with toothpicks.

Make sure to keep your charcuterie chalet refrigerated until half an hour before you plan to serve it. The ingredients will go bad if left out, but they'll also taste better if you let them come to room temperature, so a short rest out of the fridge will have your chalet ready to impress your guests.