Last week, for a ladies wine night I hosted at my home, I prepared a Cheddar Fondue. This is so easy to do- the most time consuming part will be grating the cheese. You want to use freshly grated cheese rather than pre-grated because the kind that come in the bag already have starches and powder added to them during packaging. I generally do this while watching TV – I did this while watching Amazing Race and Walking Dead!
Otherwise, it’s pretty straightforward, but so worth it for a party. Or dinner. Or lunch. Is there ever a wrong time to enjoy melted cheese? My secret for this version is that besides the cheddar, I add additional flavors via a pinch of nutmeg, dry mustard, and sometimes a few tablespoons of pesto (you can make your own or buy it from the store, whatever works for you) if no one in your party has a nut allergy. Other optio nsmight be to add in diced tomatoes or red peppers.
For dippers, I sliced up apples and had blanched broccoli, but other veggies would work like cauliflower, asparagus – and this was too time consuming for me, but boiled fingerling potatoes would be a perfect addition too. If you’re not trying to be vegetarian, you could also slice up some cooked sausage. Since this time I was intentionally striving to be gluten free I didn’t have bread – though you could seek out gluten free bread if you’d like.
Since this time I was intentionally striving to be gluten free I didn’t have bread – though you could seek out gluten free bread if you’d like.
A particular guest I had coming not only was gluten-free, but also has corn allergies. So, as a subsitute for the cornstarch that most fondue recipes call for, I used tapioca flour! Tapioca flour, also known as tapioca starch, is gluten free as it’s made with a root. I first became acquainted with tapioca flour when making pao de quejio Brazilian cheese bread rolls in the past, and often have it on hand.
I also admit I had 3 times as much of all the ingredients below- as I was making the fondue I measured 8 ounces of recipe at a time, but I prepped more than that in case the cheese ran low so I could add another 8 ounces or 4 ounces as desired. You should do this even if you aren’t sure of your party size because having a little bit of extra cheese or wine available will mean you can adjust the thickness and amount of your cheese as you need based on the way your cheese is melting to get the desired melty texture.
Make sure you don’t get your cheese too hot, as it will start to glomp together and fats will ooze from it. You want it just warm enough to be melted.
- 8 ounces of sharp Cheddar cheese, grated
- 2 cloves of garlic
- 1 cup of dry white wine
- 4 teaspoons of tapioca flour
- 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg
- 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons of pesto – regular basis or red pepper sauce
- Blanched broccoli (you can also use raw or steamed, but I like blanched because it softens it slightly but not too much so you still get great green color and firmness to stay on your fondue fork)
- Sliced apples
- Whatever else you’d like to dip into your cheese!
- Grate the sharp Cheddar cheese and then set aside – it will melt better if it’s closer to room temperature rather than cold from the refrigerator when you start to melt it.
- In a small bowl, mix the 4 teaspoons of tapioca flour with 2 tablespoons of cold water. Stir until it dissolves.
- Peel the 2 garlic cloves and rub the inside of the surface of your pot or saucepan with the cloves. I then minced the garlic and put it in the pot along with 1 cup of the white wine. Heat the wine until it is simmering.
- Slowly whisk in a handful of the 8 ounces of cheese at a time so that it will melt evenly. The liquid cheese should still be at a simmer.
- Once the cheese has melted, whisk in the tapioca and water mixture, then the 1/4 teaspoon of nutmeg and 1/2 teaspoon of dry mustard until it is smooth and fully incorporated.
- Swirl in the 2 tablespoons of pesto at the end for a little extra depth of flavor
- If you want to use a slow cooker to keep it warm, you may have to start this on a pot on the stove to get the heat needed to first melt and incorporate everything, and now move it into the slow cooker.
From here, just dip and eat! If for some reason you have leftovers, I will often refrigerate it and add it in an omelette or on open faced sandwiches or other veggies later.
Other fondues we had were broth (a great shortcut for this is to buy pho broth!) with meat and seafood, chocolate (dip crackers, cookies, fruit, cream puffs and eclairs…). It’s a fun theme for a party as it kept everyone standing around my table to move around to the various stations and accompaniments. Or, it’s lovely for a dinner with close friends or your loved one because the constant dipping as you eat helps with conversation as you are interacting with your food together!
What’s your favorite type of fondue?