A couple of local food experts share their favorite fondue recipes and tips.
Spending an evening gathered around a bubbling fondue pot of melted cheese with some delicious dippers in which to sop up that glorious cheesy goodness, well, the winter months don’t get much better than that. Add a deliciously decadent chocolate fondue with an assortment of fruit, pound cake and scintillating sweets for dessert, and you’ve got yourself, in the words of Heidi Rathbun, FoodE expert with Lunds & Byerlys, a “FUN-Do.”
And a super easy one at that.
Lucky for us, Rachael Perron, culinary and branding director for Kowalski’s Markets, and the aforementioned Rathbun, share a few of their favorite cheese and chocolate fondue recipes, along with practical tips to help your next fondue night come off without a hitch. And Perron offers up some tasty morsels of history and interesting insight into the craze that has its culinary roots in the cloud-kissed mountains, hills and plains of Switzerland, when Swiss folks were looking for a way to use their day-old bread and leftover cheese.
So, melt that cheese, cube some bread, cut some fruit and get that chocolate a-melting, because it’s time for fondue.
Fondue Fun Facts
Submitted by Rachael Perron
Fondue is a European tradition that made its way into the United States in the 1960s. It has its history in and is to this day enjoyed widely in Switzerland, Italy and France. It’s an unpretentious, simple and uniquely fun dish that amounts to little more than melted cheese served in a communal pot.
The term fondue is often generalized to include any dish in which food is dipped into a pot of hot liquid such as chocolate, oil or broth. Nonetheless, traditional cheese fondue is by far the most popular type of fondue.
The French name for a fondue pot is caquelon, but you don’t need one to enjoy fondue. Small slow cookers are very effective at keeping fondue warm for serving. A makeshift double boiler for gently cooking the fondue and melting the cheese is easy to create on a stovetop with a bowl set over a pot of simmering water. With care, fondue can even be made directly in a saucepan over very low heat.
The introduction of cornstarch to Switzerland in 1905 made it easier to make a smooth and stable emulsion of wine and cheese and probably contributed to the success of fondue in the years that followed. It was promoted as a Swiss national dish by the Swiss Cheese Union in the 1930s as a way of increasing cheese consumption.
Recipes for Your Next Fondue Night
- 1 clove garlic, crushed
- 1 cup dry white wine
- 1 Tbsp. cornstarch
- 2 Tbsp. cold water
- ⅓ lb. grated Emmental cheese
- ⅓ lb. grated Gruyère cheese
- ⅓ lb. soft cheese, such as Kowalski’s brie, rind removed
- ½ tsp. Kirsch, to taste
- 1 pinch freshly grated nutmeg
- Freshly ground Kowalski’s black peppercorns, to taste
- Dippers, your choice: lightly toasted French or pumpernickel bread, cornichons (French gherkins), boiled new potatoes and raw or blanched vegetables such as carrots, asparagus, broccoli or cauliflower
Rub the inside of a fondue pot or saucepan with crushed garlic; discard garlic. Add wine; bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Dissolve cornstarch in water; whisk into wine. Bring to a boil; cook for 2 min. Reduce heat to low; whisk in cheeses a bit at a time. Stir in Kirsch; season with nutmeg and pepper. Serve hot with your choice of dippers.
Blue Cheese Fondue
- 1 tsp. cornstarch
- ½ cup sweet white wine, divided
- 1 lb. crumbled creamy blue cheese
In a small mixing dish, stir together cornstarch and 1 Tbsp. wine; set aside. In a medium saucepan over medium heat, heat remaining wine; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to low; add cornstarch mixture and cheese to the saucepan, stirring constantly until cheese is melted and smooth. Transfer to a small slow cooker or fondue pot for serving; serve immediately.
Smoked Gouda Fondue
- 1 clove garlic, halved
- ¾ cup dry white wine
- 1 ½ tsp. fresh lemon juice
- 8 oz. finely shredded Swiss Gruyère cheese
- 4 oz. finely shredded smoked Gouda cheese
- 1 Tbsp. flour
Rub the inside of a medium saucepan with cut sides of garlic; discard garlic. Add wine and lemon juice to the pan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to medium-low. In medium mixing bowl, toss cheeses with flour. Add cheese mixture to the saucepan in handfuls, stirring constantly after each addition until cheese is melted and smooth. Transfer to a small slow cooker or fondue pot for serving; serve immediately.
- ¾ cup heavy cream
- 4 oz. 70 percent bittersweet chocolate (if using a chocolate bar, break into smaller pieces)
- 8 oz. 60 percent semisweet chocolate (if using a chocolate bar, break into smaller pieces)
- 1 Tbsp. unsalted butter
- 4 Tbsp. liqueur (see note below)
- Dippers, your choice: berries (strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries), bananas, pretzels, brownie bites, pound cake, caramels, cookies (shortbread, Madeleine, meringue), doughnuts, biscotti, marshmallows, banana bread, candied fruits, etc.
Place the cream in a medium saucepan; bring to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce heat to low; add chocolate and whisk until smooth—do not rush this part. Remove from heat; whisk in butter until smooth. Whisk in liqueur until incorporated and smooth. Transfer to a fondue pot; serve with desired dippers.
Liqueur flavors: The flavor can reflect your occasion and/or favorite dipping options. Some flavored liqueur options include orange, coffee, chocolate, hazelnut, almond, raspberry, vanilla, crème de menthe and Irish cream.
Submitted by Heidi Rathbun
- Slow and steady wins the race. Never rush fondue with higher than recipe-specified temperatures. Although some recipes can be a bit more forgiving and made in a saucepan. A bain Marie (double boiler) can also be used. Some fondue pots have a cook setting, be sure to follow manufacturer’s instructions.
- Use quality ingredients. Good ingredients = great taste.
- Know your crowd. Is the occasion casual or formal? Does anyone have a food allergy (nuts, gluten, dairy, etc.)? Should alcohol be left out of the recipe?
- Make sure your fondue is “Fun-Do!” Read through your recipe and prepare all ingredients first. Have your dippers ready before beginning fondue. In other words, prep for success.
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