Forget gingerbread houses! We're all about savory snacks this year.

By Mary Honkus
December 04, 2020 05:02 PM
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Credit: Mary Honkus

The holidays have finally arrived after a tumultuous year and that means it's time to build a classic gingerbread house, right? Wrong! This year we're making charcuterie chalets only.

What is a charcuterie chalet, you ask? Well, it is the internet's latest viral food trend. Just imagine a beautiful, festive gingerbread house — but instead of cookies, these chalets are constructed from meat, cheese, and crackers. Sounds dreamy, right?

Charcuterie boards have always been my specialty — I always bring a carefully crafted plate to gatherings and frankly, building these boards two or three times a week has kept my roommate and me sane throughout the pandemic. So once these meaty mansions went viral, I knew I'd have to attempt to make one for myself.

Credit: Mary Honkus

Like many people, my friends and I decided to stay in New York and not travel home for Thanksgiving this year. Luckily, we all live in the same apartment building so we were still able to celebrate the holiday safely.

After a lot of thought and planning, my roommate Mikella and I decided that crafting our own crackers from scratch would probably be the best way to make the frame for the house so we could shape them ourselves. We used a recipe from The Kitchnand before we made the dough we crafted stencils to follow so each piece would be the exact same measurements.

We decided to go with an A-frame house design because we figured that would be easiest. So we rolled out the dough and cut two triangular and two rectangular crackers and let them bake for 15 minutes. For the remaining dough, we got a little crafty and used a wine-glass shaped cookie cutter to make wine crackers.

Once the crackers cooled, we constructed the frame using cream cheese as glue. It was almost perfect, except our measurements were off so there was a massive gap in the roof. Nothing a little prosciutto couldn't fix though!

Credit: Mary Honkus

Next, we had to choose how to decorate our house, and we had so many things to use for decorations — seven types of cheese, four kinds of meat, three boxes of crackers, and a variety of fruits, veggies, nuts, and herbs. With all of the supplies, we knew we could let our creativity shine to craft a gorgeous edible masterpiece.

Mikella took charge in putting salami shingles on the roof, while our friend Marie spent her time designing a gorgeous little goat cheese snowman complete with a prosciutto scarf and cucumber hat.

I attempted to make my own snowman, but he wasn't nearly as cute as Marie's. My snowman's eyes (which were made from pomegranate arils) were way too big for his head.

Credit: Mary Honkus

Our focus shifted to the front of the house. We made a door out of celery, a little walkway from Camembert, sliced almonds, and more salami, and front siding out of creamy Toscano cheese. To add some Christmas cheer, a dill wreath was added above the door and parmesan snow rained down to create a winter wonderland.

Of course, we paid attention to every little detail — Marie carved a pine tree out of a cucumber we made a little fire pit from peanuts and pomegranates. Our snowmen even roasted little marshmallows on toothpicks!

Credit: Mary Honkus

We were all pleasantly surprised and proud of how our little chalet turned out. No one wanted to dig in first and ruin the masterpiece! This little activity definitely sparked joy during a weird holiday season.

See below for some helpful tips for how to build your own charcuterie chalet and watch my masterpiece come to life above or on my YouTube channel.

Tips for Building a Charcuterie Chalet

  • Cream cheese makes for a wonderful glue — use it to cement the walls of the house together and to adhere decorations to the outside.
  • To build foliage around your house, use sprigs of rosemary and other herbs for trees or broccoli for bushes.
  • Grate parmesan (or any cheese of choice) over the finished house — it turns your chalet into a winter wonderland with a fresh dusting of "snow".
  • Don't have time to make your own crackers? Get creative with the base of the house: use pretzel logs or breadsticks to get a log cabin vibe.
  • Snowmen are easily made out of goat cheese because it is malleable enough to roll into different shapes.
  • Use toothpicks to secure each layer of your snowman.