My Best Swiss Fondue Recipe
How to make a foolproof traditional Swiss Fondue
I had made my share of Swiss fondues with some disastrous meltdowns. A seemingly simple recipe of melted cheese in a pot of simmering wine with cornstarch, nutmeg and kirsch cannot possible go wrong, you may think. Overheating, cheese balling up and separating from the wine, tough and stringy cheese are some of the things that can ruin a fondue dinner. After many tries, I have finally come up with what I consider to be my best Swiss fondue recipe with accompanying do's and don'ts.
All photos were taken by Bakerwoman (that's me).
First let me introduce my vintage Le Creuset fondue pot - Bright and festive all year round
This is my largest enameled cast iron fondue pot made by Le Creuset dating back to the 80s. The thick bottom of the cast iron pot distributes heat evenly and is excellent also for meat fondues.The handle on the pot makes it convenient to cook the fondue on the stove and then transfer it to the table.
I love this wide-mouthed pot which allows a recipe for 2-4 guests. It makes it easier for guests to see the bubbling cheese when they dip their speared bread. It is also easier to fish out your lost chunk of bread in a larger fondue pot too.
The cast iron burner stand is heavy and stable and comes with an adjustable alcohol fuel burner with snuffer. The amount of air allowed in the chamber controls the height and heat of the flame.
This type of wide-mouth and shallower fondue pots are harder to find even on eBay. Newer versions made by Le Creuset are narrower and taller. I will stick with this traditional style fondue pot.
After the proper introduction, let's begin.
#1 Cut chunks of crusty sourdough bread or baguette - Prepare this ahead of time
Coarse artisan bread or sourdough bread is usually what is eaten with Swiss fondue. Every cube should be cut with a crust on it. Each bread will be skewered with the crust on the bottom, dipped in the melted cheese, scraped on the side of the bowl and then eaten. The gentle scraping is to prevent the cheese clinging to the sides from burning.
I leave the leftover loaf of bread on the cutting board in case the supply of bread runs out.
From the stove to the table - This fondue pot set is practical as it is functional
The glazed enameled cast iron pot stands up to the heat and is durable and thick and distributes heat evenly. Do all the cooking on the stove and transfer the pot to the burner on the table and the most fun fondue dinner is ready.
#2 Rub the inside of the fondue pot with 1/2 tsp. of minced garlic with the back of spoon. I usually leave these garlic morsels
6 oz. GruyÃ¨re and 6 oz. Emmentaler cheese - This is the equivalent of the half-and-half fondue
GruyÃ¨re is named after the Swiss village of GruyÃ¨res and is a classic French melting cheese. It is pale yellow, nutty, rich and creamy and is usually aged for 6 months or more. Emmental, sometimes called emmenthaler is named after the Emmental valley near Berne, Switzerland where it was first made in 1292. Emmental cheese is known for the holes produced by the fermentation process and is usually known as Swiss cheese. It is often melted together with gruyÃ¨re for the classic Swiss fondue.
For this Old World recipe, use the aged and imported and aged GruyÃ¨re and Emmental for the authentic taste. Do not substitute with generic Swiss cheeses. It will not taste the same.
#3 Coarsely grate cheeses
Must be room temperature when ready to be used
Why does it matter how coarse or fine cheese are grated when these are going to be melted in the pot anyway? It is important to grate the cheeses coarsely to keep the cheese from clumping when mixed with the heated wine. Finely grated cheese will clump together the moment this is added to the simmering pot of wine.
The step could have been eliminated if packaged grated gruyere and emmenthal were available in our supermarket. In Switzerland where cheese fondue is a staple all year round, these packaged cheeses are readily available.
#4 Add 1 tablespoon cornstarch (3 tsps.) to grated cheese - Coat cheese evenly
Coat the grated cheese with cornstarch to stabilize the cheese sauce. I put on the lid of the bowl, inverted it and shook it vigorously a few times to coat the cheeses. Putting the cheese and cornstarch in a Ziploc bag and giving it a good shake will do the same trick.
Some recipes call for flour, but I preferred using cornstarch which used lesser amount.
Combine 1 cup dry Chardonnay white wine and juice of half of a small lemon
Lemon is a must
The lemon juice not only adds tartness but the citric acid keeps the melted cheese creamy and smooth.
#5 Pour wine and lemon into fondue pot and heat at low temperature - Slowly but surely
Why not crank up the heat so the wine will boil faster? There is no need to do that. Wine will boil at a lower temperature than water. It will be hot enough when small bubbles form on the bottom of the pot. Even at a low temperature, I keep an eye on the pot to prevent the wine from going into a rolling boil before adding the grated cheese. This is to prevent the protein molecules in the cheeses from getting too hot and clumping together and causing the cheese to separate from the wine.
#6 Gradually add the grated cheese to wine - Do not allow to boil
With a wooden spoon, gradually add grated cheese to the wine and lemon mixture. I like using a bamboo spoon which is durable and from a renewable source. Do not dump the cheese all at the same time. Add small portions of cheese and slowly and gently stir with a figure 8 or zigzag motion until cheese melts. Do not stir vigorously with circular motion as this will cause the cheese to seize up. Continue to mix the cheese into the pot until all are gone. Keep an eye on the heat and do not allow the pot to boil or form large bubbles or cheese will clump. This step will take 15 minutes but well worth the effort. It may seem watery in the beginning, but with gentle figure 8 stirring, the cheese and the wine will come together beautifully.
Cheese melted slowly at low heat is what I have learned for a successful fondue. It will stay creamy, smooth and will not separate.
Spice up the fondue
It is the little things that make the difference.
#7 Add 1 Tbsp. Kirsch cherry brandy to help cheese stay creamy and smooth
#8 Add a sprinkle of ground nutmeg
#9 Add freshly ground black pepper and give it a stir.
Fondue is ready - The welcome meltdown you will not forget
The fondue pot is transferred to the lighted burner set on a lazy susan. This makes it easy to turn the pot as it is being stirred by the skewers of bread. The cast iron burner or rechaud has a Sterno fuel insert on the bottom which is lighted with a match. There are holes in the fuel insert to regulate the heat. Keep the flames on low to maintain the gentle bubbles in the fondue and no more. Overheating will cause the melted cheese to clump like a giant wad of bubble gum.
I like the heavy enameled cast iron pot because the metal is thicker which prevents scorching and also ensures even distribution of heat. The Swiss fondue stayed creamy, smooth and simply unforgettable. There was never a need to add lemon juice or Kirsch to smooth out clumping cheese.
Aside from the chunks of crusty bread, cubes of apples and seedless red grapes were added as accompaniments. Usually, the same kind of wine used in the fondue, in this case Chardonnay, would be paired with the Swiss fondue. But my friend had brought over her favorite red wine and so that was what we imbibed in.
It is time to dig in - But keep an eye on the temperature
Skewer the chunk of bread through the soft side so that the crust in on the underside. The first dip into the bubbly Swiss fondue and the first bite elicited oohs and aahs. I kept hearing "Ummm, this is so good" and "this is the best ever" over and over again. You can see speckles of cracked pepper and nutmeg floating on the melted cheese. These spices, when fished out with the chunk of bread and melted cheese make all the difference. I highly recommend adding them at all cost.
Keep the heat just so the cheese has gentle bubbles by adjusting the fuel burner regulator. If the heat is too hot and beyond the melting point of the cheese, the diary protein molecules will cause the cheese to ball up. On the other hand, if the cheese is allowed to cool down too much, it will get tougher and stringier. Stir the cheese gently in a figure 8, wiping against the side of the bowl to prevent the cheese from getting burnt.
When the level of the melted cheese has come down near the bottom of the pot, reduce the heat to avoid scorching the rest.
Good to the last drop
The grand finale
It is not over until the hardened toasted crust of cheese on the bottom of the pot is eaten and shared with friends. It can be slightly chewy or has the texture of a cracker. This is called la religieuse which is French for nun because the nuns wore several layers of clothing in their habit. Legend has it that the monks saved the crispy bits of the fondue for the nuns.
Cast iron fondue sets for every taste - Durable and distributes heat evenly
These fondue pots can go from the stove to the table. There is no need to transfer the melted cheese from one pot to another.
Fondue links you do not want to miss
- Everything Fondue
Anything you wanted to know about cheese fondue, including etiquette.
- Types of Fondue Pots | eHow
Types of Fondue Pots. Fondue cooking involves dipping meats, bread, fruit and cake into sauces, oil or chocolate. The history of fondue originated with peasants living in Switzerland. Their main sources of sustenance were Gruyere cheese, wine and bre
- Fondue Tips and Hints - How to make fondue
How to make fondue, including cooking tips, recipes, and fondue history.
- Fondue party entertaining tips, recipes, and invites - Canadian Living
Add some retro appeal to your celebrations with a fondue party. Fun and interactive, a fondue will suit any palate and is easy on the cook!�
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The final cooldown - A sweet ending to the best fondue meltdown
For dessert, I served coffee ice cream with Belgian butter waffle cookie and strawberries on the side. This was the coolest way to clean and sweeten our palates after such a fabulous "Fun Do."
Now for the recipe
After following the step-by-step pictorial instructions, you can now print this recipe for your next foolproof Old Word Swiss fondue.
This is a recipe that I have modified and tested many times until it reached perfection. As long as the recipe is followed,
the melted cheese will not ball up or separate. It will serve two people. To serve four people, double the ingredients.
I have tried many different variations of Swiss Fondue and I consider this to be my best Swiss Fondue recipe.
- 6 oz. or 1 1/2 cups aged GruyÃ¨re cheese coarsely grated
- 6 oz. or 1 1/2 cups aged Emmenthal coarsely grated
- 3 tsps. cornstarch
- 1 Tablespoon Kirsch (cherry brandy)
- 2 tsps. lemon juice about half of a small lemon
- 1 cup dry white wine (Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc)
- 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
- Dash of fresh ground pepper
- Sprinkle of ground nutmeg
- Crusty French sourdough or artisan bread
- 1. Cut a loaf of crusty French sourdough bread or artisan bread into large chunks and set aside.
- 2. Coarsely grate the GruyÃ¨re and emmenthaler cheeses in a bowl.
- 3. Add 3 tsps. ( 1 tablespoon) cornstarch and coat the cheeses
- 4. Rub 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic with the back of a spoon around the inside of the pot. I like to keep the garlic in the pot instead of throwing them out.
- 5. Measure 1 cup dry white wine ( I used Chardonnay which comes in the small 4-pack so I do not have to open a large bottle for this recipe. Heat at low temperature until tiny bubbles form.
- 6. Slowly add cheese into the wine mixture, gently stirring with a wooden spoon in a figure 8 motion.
- Continue adding the cheese little by little and stirring until all are melted.
- 7. Add 1 Tbsp. Kirsch (Kirschwasser cherry brandy) and stir.
- 8. Add a dash of ground pepper.
- 9. Add a sprinkle of ground nutmeg.
- 10. Continue to gently stir until melted cheese is creamy and smooth.
- 11. Light up Sterno and set cast iron burner on the table. Transfer fondue pot to the burner.
- 12. Skewer cubes of bread, dip into melted cheese and enjoy.
Must-have fondue recipes
There is something so satisfying about sitting around with friends and sharing a pot of fondue. There are meat fondues, cheese fondues, and an array of more savory recipes. This book is a compilation of the best things to melt and impress yours and your friends' palates.