Cheese fondue is a fun and delicious way to heat up your kitchen and your body. A great many foods become scrumptious when garnished with cheese, but it does not get any better than when the food is dipped in a warm, velvety pool of this melted dairy.
The classic version of cheese fondue consists of a blend of Swiss Emmentaler and Gruyere cheeses. Today, however, many recipes have come to include cheddar, Gouda, and nacho cheese. Nacho and cheddar are two of the more popular kinds of cheese because of the wide variety of fare that can be dipped into them. Foods that go well with them include everything from cocktail wieners, potato wedges, and breads to baby carrots, broccoli florets, and pineapple chunks.
Regardless of the cheese used in a recipe, cubed and shredded forms are best for melting. Cheeses with a higher percentage of fat also melt well. Be aware, though, that cheese should be the final ingredient added when making fondue. The less heated the cheese, the better. Keep an eye on it and remove it from the heat source if necessary. Never allow it to boil, as this a surefire way to ruin your concoction. Fondue is not meant to be clumped and curdled.
Many traditional recipes include white wine or beer. One must take care when choosing the quality of these ingredients. With wine, especially, choose a dry variety that is of a younger vintage. The acid maintains thickness in the fondue and creates a smooth, creamy texture while preventing the formation of strings; however, do not use too much wine, as that can cause curdling and completely counteract the purpose of it. Bear in mind that as the fondue heats and simmers, it is important not to stir the mixture too much, as that will lead to stringing as well.
Using starches also keeps the cheese in the fondue from curdling. It can sometimes be a delicate process to find the optimum mixture of starch and wine, because too much of one or the other can cause separation, creating an oily and runny consistency. Sometimes cutting back on the wine and eliminating the starch altogether helps, but the lack of starch will lessen the creamy texture of the fondue.
When it is time to serve, the fondue can be transferred to a fondue pot, or caquelon. It sits on a set of legs just over a heat source, such as a gas flame, electric burners, or candles. This heat source should be just hot enough to keep the cheese simmering at most. Remember, boiled cheese is curdled cheese.
The fountain is a fun way to drizzle your food with a waterfall of fondue. It is nearly identical to the fountains utilized in serving chocolate fondue. It consists of a series of tiers set atop one another in the shape of a cone. The smallest tiers are at the top, and get wider as the cone descends. A pump brings the cheese to the top, and it then cascades down the sides, waiting to cover whatever is dipped in its stream.