Thursday, May 6, 2021

Numbers Charcuterie for Graduation or Birthdays!

Need a fun centerpiece idea to celebrate a milestone!?

Using paper mache numbers from craft stores... with a little craftiness I created the perfect holder for candy, nuts, cookies or even cheese and crackers.

I purchased my numbers from Joann’s and Hobby Lobby.  The numbers and letters- (did I mention you could do monograms too!?) they come in different sizes, so read the description carefully if you order online.

I chose 12-inch and 16-inch numbers.

To remove the top, carefully pierce the cardboard with a serrated knife or the pointy end of scissors.  Then peel back the cardboard.  I thought I would need to cut away the top—but I was wrong—simply pulling the cardboard cleanly removed to top.  Inside the number shapes were some little cardboard supports, I simply discarded those. See photos below.

 I filled the numbers with fruit cups, cookies,  and candies. I also created a charcuterie set of graduation numbers with crackers, cheeses, veggies and fruit... I used waxed tissue paper to protect the cardboard from grease or oil splotches.

Ideas for a dessert inspired charcuterie board/display:
Yogurt covered pretzels, dried fruit, raisins cherries
Chocolate covered pretzels
Sandwich cookies
Pirouette cookies
Hard candies
Favorite candy
Mini chocolate chip cookies
Cake pops
Caramel corn 
Cotton candy-in bags(otherwise it melts in humid air)

Ideas for a savory charcuterie board/display:
Assorted Cheeses
Assorted Crackers
Dried fruits
Dried meats
Baby heirloom tomatoes 
Apple slices
Baguette slices
Cheese straws
Fig jam
Tortilla chips

For the adorable baking cups that are great for holding cheese cubes, candies, nuts or anything you want to keep together—I love using products from My Minds Eye, here’s the link to their baking cups: My Mind’s Eye Baking Cups. They also carry beautiful party goods and paper decor... lots of great choices.  Of course, if you are short on time, I’ve seen similar baking cups at Homegoods, and sometimes TJ Maxx and Target in the baking or party department/aisles.

Here’s where I purchased my waxed tissue paper—Waxed tissue paper

 I love waxed tissue paper for filling cookie tins around the holidays too! 

I cut flowers short and tucked them in to fill tiny gaps-it makes the whole centerpiece come together.

Little baking cups are great holders for candies and nuts, but if you need something for liquid I used small clear plastic cups to hold cut fruit.

Here’s the recipe for this delicious fruit dip— this recipe is from my dear friend Stephanie Conner Close.—Stephanie shared this recipe with me when we were in grad school—she said it could not be easier—and she was right..  My sweet friend left this world far too early, I think of her often and send my warmest wishes to her sons this Mother’s Day (and every day).  Stephanie would be thrilled to share this recipe with each of you.

Stephanie’s Fruit Dip: 

8-ounce cream cheese softened

7-ounce marshmallow fluff

1/2 teaspoon vanilla

Optional-food color. I use a drop of red to make pink.

In a medium bowl, using a hand mixer beat the cream cheese until light and fluffy 1-2 minutes. Add the marshmallow fluff, and vanilla.  Mix well, until combined, smooth and fluffy.  If coloring, add a drop and mix well. Refrigerate until ready to serve.

Apple Pie French Toast Bake

This delicious breakfast dish is perfect for a Mother’s Day brunch!  Skip the crowded restaurants and make this— just don’t forget to do the dishes!!

Apple Pie French Toast Bake

350 degrees-middle oven rack

8x8 dish-Serves 4-6


1 tablespoon softened butter for dish

8-10 slices brioche bread 

6 eggs 

3 Tablespoons maple syrup

2 cups whole milk or half and half 

1 cup apples peeled and diced (about 2-3 apples) Fuji or Honeycrisp are great choices for apples

1 Tablespoon brown sugar

1 Tablespoon granulated sugar

1/2 teaspoon apple pie spice

Streusel-mix together with a fork until crumb-like consistency forms.

4 Tablespoons softened butter

1/2 cup brown sugar 

1/2 cup all purpose flour 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon 

Pinch of salt

1/4 cup chopped pecans-optional 


Butter an 8x8 casserole dish-set aside.

On a baking sheet, place brioche bread in a single layer, toast for 10-12 minutes in a low 200 degree oven-to lightly dry out the bread. Let bread cool, then slice into 1-2 inch squares. (If you have the time, you can simply leave bread out for a few hours-the bread should be slightly stale, but not crunchy-stale bread soaks up the milk and egg better.)

Place bread into the buttered casserole dish.

Peel and dice the apples (about 1 inch sized pieces) Toss the apples in a mixture of the brown sugar, granulated sugar and the apple pie spice. Add the coated apples to the bread.

In a large bowl, add 6 eggs, 2 cups milk and 3 Tablespoons of maple syrup.  Gently whisk until smooth.  Slowly pour the egg/milk/syrup mixture over the bread and apples.  Let the bread soak in the mixture for 3 minutes. Submerge any noticeably dry bread pieces.

Cover casserole with foil and bake in a preheated 350 degree oven for 40 minutes on the middle oven rack.  After 40 minutes, remove the foil, add the streusel crumb topping and bake, uncovered for 20 minutes more.

The finished Apple Pie French Toast Bake should be puffed, golden and reach and internal temperature of 170 degrees when baked.

Let the casserole rest for 10 minutes after removing from the oven. Slice and serve.  

It’s delicious plain, but you can add syrup, whipped cream or a drizzle of caramel sauce to make it extra delicious.

For a large crowd-double the recipe-and use a 9x13 casserole dish. 

This can be made ahead-and refrigerated overnight.  Bake time may take an extra 10 minutes.

Brioche bread is a delicious rich eggy bread... you can see the deep yellow color-it sort of looks like French toast already.

This is the bread I used... store bought from the regular bread section.  Some brioche breads will be whole loaves in the bakery department of some stores— you can slice those breads at home—either are great choices!