No need to travel far or wait for winter just to have cubes of bread dipped into gooey, melted cheese. With the right ingredients and a good fondue pot, you can make authentic cheese fondue at home all year round.
From the French word fondre or “to melt”, fondue dates back to 18th century Switzerland. During this time, families in farm villages would have to make do with cheese, wine, and stale bread for winter. Fondue then became a tradition when they discovered that old bread and warm, melted cheese make a delectable pair.
While you can always prepare your cheese fondue with your own choice of cheese and flavourings, the classic Swiss cheese fondue is traditionally made with gruyère and emmental cheeses melted with white wine and a shot of kirsch. Garlic rubbed around the fondue pot plus a dash of pepper and nutmeg give the cheesy dip extra flavour.
When you do serve fondue at home, make sure to have the drinks to go with it. Did you know that the Swiss have a firm belief that fondue should be eaten with dry white wine? They say this aids in digestion as drinking something cold or fizzy can cause stomach cramps due to coagulated cheese.
This is all but an amusing myth though as white wine actually slows down cheese digestion, and having chilled drinks with fondue is anything but fatal. You could try drinking black tea to keep your tummy safe, but drinking whatever makes you happy is probably the best option.
Other than that, there are other tips on fondue etiquette that won’t hurt you to follow:
- Start with the bread over other dippers.
- Always stir in a figure eight pattern when you dip into it. This helps keep the cheese from burning or separating.
- Let excess cheese drip back into the pot by rotating the fork over it.
- Don’t put the fondue fork in your mouth because you’ll be using it to dip into the molten cheese again. Fondue forks are meant to be used for serving onto your plate, and are also very sharp.
- In case you did eat with your fondue fork, do not double dip! That said, do not also dip food directly in the fondue.
Aside from being a delicious one-pot comfort food, fondue is also a way to bond with family and friends. In Switzerland, penalties are usually given to those who lose their bread in the fondue pot. Try having the kids sing a song or the adults buy drinks as punishment. A little entertainment (and a good laugh) will definitely spice up your fondue parties!
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- Fondue set
- Bread knife
- Paring knife
- Cutting board
- Small bowl
- Cheese grater
- Rasp grater
- Digital weighing scale
- Measuring cups
- Measuring spoons
- Silicone spatula
- 2 loaves dried crusty French bread or baguette
- 1 tbsp cornflour
- 4 tbsp kirschwasser (cherry liqueur)
- 1 garlic clove, peeled and sliced in half
- 500g Gruyère cheese, coarsely grated
- 250g Emmental cheese, coarsely grated
- 1 cup dry white wine (sauvignon blanc, albariño, or chardonnay)
- Freshly ground white pepper
- Freshly grated nutmeg (optional)
- Cut the bread into bite-size cubes, each with a bit of crust attached.
- Combine the cornflour and kirschwasser together in a small bowl to form a paste. Set aside.
- Rub the inner surface of your fondue pot with a peeled and sliced garlic clove to give your cheese mixture extra flavour. Set the pot aside and discard the garlic.
- Add the cheese and wine to your saucepan. Let the cheese mixture melt gradually on low to medium heat while stirring constantly to keep it smooth.
- Add the cornflour and kirschwasser paste to the saucepan and simmer for 2 more minutes.
- Season your cheese mixture with pepper and nutmeg (optional) to taste.
- Carefully transfer your melted cheese to your fondue pot then light the fondue burner to keep the cheese warm and melted.
- Serve immediately and enjoy with cubed crusty bread and glasses of white wine or kirsch schnapps.
- You can also serve cubed steamed potatoes, vegetables, and fruits like apple, pear, and pineapple for dipping.
- For a kid-friendly cheese fondue, you can substitute the white wine with chicken broth, milk, or apple juice, and the cherry liqueur with water.