The comfort of melted cheese and chocolate

Cosy in this winter with bread, wine and cheese. What more could you want? If you wish, add some friends and you have a party, the best way to counteract the winter blahs!

Way back in the 70s, fondues were all the rage. Now all these years later, they have regained popularity for very good reason. They are tasty to eat, fast and easy to prepare, versatile enough that they are children and adult friendly, and everyone from the youngest to the oldest can serve themselves with the quantities of food they enjoy.

In short, fondues are a recipe for success.

Although it is nice to have a fondue pot, it is not essential. In fact, with this recipe a simple oven-proof casserole serves very well.

For best results, buy the highest quality cheese possible. Better to have a small amount of superior quality cheese than to have a larger quantity of tasteless cheese of inferior quality. Usually, price dictates the quality of a cheese. If time permits, continue on with the theme and prepare a chocolate fondue for dessert. You will be ready for stardom!!

Cheese Fondue

You can use a mixture of cheeses for this fondue, nippy old cheddar and Jarlsberg or all old cheddar- your decision. Either way it is delicious served with large cubes of fresh white and whole-grain breads, apple slices, broccoli and cauliflower florets for dipping into the ooey-gooey cheese sauce. A big green salad with a tasty vinaigrette completes the meal.

2 tbsp (25 mL) butter
2 tbsp (25 mL) all-purpose flour
1/2 cup (125 mL) milk
1 cup (60 mL) beer
1 clove crushed garlic
1/2 tsp (2 mL) each, salt, black pepper and fresh nutmeg
6 cups (1.5 L/ 1 ½ lb/750 g) coarsely grated old cheddar cheese or mixture old cheddar and Swiss cheese

In a saucepan over medium heat, melt butter. Stir in flour and cook until flour starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Gradually whisk in milk and stir until thickened and smooth. Gradually whisk in beer, garlic, salt, pepper and nutmeg. Continue to cook; whisk until slightly thickened and smooth. Stir in cheese a handful at a time and continue to stir until cheese has melted. (Do not use too high a heat to melt cheese or it will become tough and chewy!)

Pour fondue into serving dish and serve at once or cover until ready to serve up to several hours ahead. Re-heat in a mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water then pour cheese fondue into serving dish. Makes four to six servings.

Chocolate Fondue

Like cheese, chocolate does not like fierce heat. It will clump (“seize up” is the term) making the chocolate useless. To avoid seizing up, melt the chocolate over indirect heat, in a mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water (the same method as to re-heat the cheese in recipe above). This will ensure a gentle heat to melt the chocolate and keep it liquid, perfect for dipping.

And what to dip? Fresh strawberries, sliced fresh pears, and marshmallows are decadent. Keep it simple. The chocolate fondue will be ready in minutes.

12 oz (350 g) semi-sweet chocolate, chopped (good quality chocolate chips work well and do not need to be chopped)
1/4 cup (50 mL) butter
2 tbsp (25 mL) orange flavoured liqueur (optional)
Assorted dippers as described above, or shortbread cookies, spongecake, clementine pieces, sliced pineapple

In a medium mixing bowl combine chopped chocolate or chocolate chips and butter in mixing bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. Cook stirring with a stainless steel spoon until chocolate melts. Stir in liqueur if using and serve immediately with dippers. If desired, pour chocolate into a serving bowl which can be kept warm such as a chafing dish.


Jan Main is an author, cooking instructor and caterer  ~

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