How to make the best fondue ever, tricks of the trade and fondue etiquette.
Picture this: A group of good friends huddling over a pot of bubbling decadence, with a glass of wine in hand. Fondue (pronounced fahn-doo) is more than just a dish, it’s an entire dining experience. Just the way the rich flavours linger on your palate long after you’ve had a mouthful, the way its silky smooth texture works like magic with crispy croutons… I’ll admit: Fondue is why I look forward to winter. It’s best enjoyed with the ones you love, which makes it the perfect meal for entertaining during the holiday season! Fondue even makes for the ideal romantic dinner, whether it’s strawberries dipped in chocolate, bread in cheese or tasty meat. Let’s face it, there’s nothing more inviting than a warm pot of fondue this time of the year.
Did you know: The French term "fondre", from which fondue is derived, actually means "melt". This ooey-gooey dish dates back to the 18th century, and actually originated in Switzerland. This scrumptiously simple treat is served out of a traditional pot called "caquelon" made of heavy earthenware. The pot helps promote even heat distribution or heat retention. Long forks are used to spear a cube of bread which is then dipped into the cheese and eaten.
How Do You Fondue?
1. Spear a piece of bread using a fondue fork and dip it into the pot, to eat cheese fondue. Twirl the bread cube gently in the cheese to coat it, and let the bread drip a bit before you put it in your mouth. This will allow the excess to drip back in the pot and also allow time for cooling.
2. When you put the bread in your mouth try not to touch the fork with your lips or tongue as the fork goes back in the pot.
3. Executive Chef Jerome Cousin, Rara Avis, says, “The trick is to stir, making the figure 8, constantly while cooking for that ultimate texture”.
The traditional Swiss style fondue is a combination of two cheeses, Gruyere and Emmenthaler, and chefs may have tried to recreate the dish with different flavours but somehow always go back to the classic. The two creamy cheeses melt really well, and pair beautifully together because either cheese eaten alone would produce either a result too sharp or too bland. Garlic is added for that extra kick of flavour while the flour or cornstarch assists in keeping the cheese from separating. Dry white wine such as a Sauvignon Blanc gives the fondue an interesting flavour, and also to help keep the cheese from direct heat as it melts. The natural tartaric acid in wine prevents the cheeses from clumping together and turning the fondue into a stringy, broken mess. Serve with lots of artisan bread, boiled mini potatoes, steamed greens, pickled pearl onions, fresh fruits like apples and pears. Dunk in some roasted jalapenos and peppers as well. You can sip on some dry white wine such as dry Riesling or Sancerre while digging into the classic cheese fondue.
Fon-dos: The key with fondue is to keep the temperature very low once you start adding the cheese. If the mixture is too thin, add more cheese. If it's too thick, add more wine.
Fon-don’ts: Avoid a bubbling pot since it can ruin the batch and burn your mouth. Instead, use a fondue pot that keeps a low, even temperature. Make sure guests dip spicy peppers quickly to make sure the pepper’s heat doesn’t transfer to the cheese, especially if kids are sharing.
2 cups Emmenthal cheese
2 cups Gruyere cheese
1 tbsp cornstarch
1 garlic clove, cut in half
1 ½ cup dry white wine
1 tbsp brandy
½ tsp nutmeg (ground)
½ tsp black pepper (ground)
a pinch of salt (to taste)
1. Rub the inside of your cheese fondue pot with garlic, then discard.
2. Over low heat, warm up the wine but do not let it boil, and then add some brandy.
3. Coat the grated cheese crumbs with the cornstarch.
4. Gradually add it to the pot, and stir constantly for a creamy melted texture.
5. Add a splash of Brandy, bring to a simmer, and keep stirring until slightly thickened.
6. Add nutmeg, salt and black pepper to taste.
The simplest (and sweetest) in the fondue family, the chocolate fountain at any party is the highlight of my night. Serve with marshmallows, churros, fresh fruits, nuts, cookies, biscotti, shortbread and pretzels. Indeed, chocolate makes everything better. And you may have heard that dark chocolate is the healthiest of all chocolates, so you would actually be doing your body a favour. Note: Once your chocolate has melted it should stay soft and dippable for about an hour without needing added heat. Go on, become your family’s hero in just a few minutes!
Fon-dos: A splash of orange, cherry or coffee liqueur gives melted chocolate a slight twist, and brings out more flavour.
Fon-don’ts: As chocolate can scorch easily, keep heat levels at a minimum. If the chocolate cools down and hardens, increase the heat a bit or microwave the bowl for just 15 seconds to loosen it up.
180 gm semi-sweet chocolate
100 gm unsweetened chocolate
1 cup whipping cream
2 tbsp sugar
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp chilli powder
Dash of rum
2 tbsp sour cream
1. Coarsely chop the chocolate, and melt it in a double boiler with whipping cream and sugar.
2. Place the mixture in a metal bowl over the saucepan, making sure the bottom of the bowl doesn't touch the simmering water.
3. Turn the heat down to low and melt the chocolate, stirring constantly and making sure the chocolate doesn't burn.
4. Pour the mixture into a fondue pot and stir in the cinnamon, chilli powder, and rum.
5. Keep the fondue warm on low heat, and swirl in the sour cream just before serving.
Warning: Our winning fondue formula makes it easy to overindulge in a haze of chocolate and marshmallows, cheese and bread. Dig in at your own risk.