Yield: For 4 persons
- 400 g Gruyêre cheese, grated (1 lb.)
- 400 g Emmenthaler cheese. grated (1 lb.)
- 400 ml dry white wine (2 cups)
- Rule of thumb: 200 g (8 oz.) cheese to 100 ml (½ cup) wine
- 1 or more cloves garlic
- 4 tsp. cornstarch
- 50 ml kirschwasser (¼ cup)
- pepper, freshly ground
- nutmeg. freshly grated
- 1 lb. or more baguettes (French bread), cut into bite-size cubes.
It is necessary to use bread of the correct texture and size. The bread should not be too soft and it should be cubed in such a way that each cube retains part of the crust. The cube is then pierced through the crust into the crumb. This prevents the bread from slipping off into the fondue. This sometimes happens anyway, of course, and in Switzerland there is a tradition when eating fondue in a restaurant (optional depending on the crowd), that if one is guilty, one buy a round of schnapps for the whole party.
- Rub the caquelon with the clove of garlic. Alternatively, if one likes more garlic, chop finely and throw in the caquelon.
- Add the dry white wine and warm slightly on the stove top, over a low flame.
- Mix the cornstarch with the cheese so that the cheese particles are well dusted and add to the warm wine.
- Melt the cheese stirring constantly in a figure eight pattern.
- Stir until the mixture has thickened and starts to boil up.
- Away from the heat, add the kirschwasser and blend in. Traditionally, the cornstarch is mixed into a slurry with the schnapps and added with it at this point. However, adding the cornstarch with the cheese makes it less likely that the fondue will "turn" (separate) and this method is used in many recipes for fondue.
- Season with nutmeg and freshly ground pepper (black or white as you prefer).
- Bring to the boil another 1 or 2 times.
- Bring the caquelon to the table and place on the stand over the spirit burner. The heat should be regulated carefully so that the fondue stays hot but does not boil.
Each diner has a dinner plate to hold bread cubes and accompaniments, and catch drips. Skewer cubes of bread with a fondue fork and dip into the cheese, turning the fork over to coat all sides. If you are especially hygiene concious, agree between yourselves to slide the bread off onto your plates and eat it with a separate fork, resting the fondue fork in the caquelon while you are eating.
If you are in a hurry:
- Pour the wine into a cold caquelon with the garlic.
- Mix the cornstarch to a slurry with the schnapps and add it to the wine.
- Now heat rapidly while whisking until the wine boils up and thickens.
- Lower the heat and add the cheese a handful at a time until it melts, stirring constantly.
- As unconventional as this method is, it almost guarantees that your fondue will not separate because the stabilizing properties of the cornstarch are activated at the start.
What to do if your fondue separates
If the right conditions for emulsification are not present, the aqueous and fatty components of a fondue may separate in much the same way as a mayonnaise may do so. This can be caused by the wrong proportion of liquid to fat. In mayonnaise making, the problem occurs as a result of adding the oil too quickly. In a fondue the problem may occur in a number of ways:
- When using the traditional method (straight wine and cheese), melting occurs too rapidly.
- The water boils off leaving too much fat in proportion to aqueous component.
- The aqueous component is too great to hold an emulsion.
- There is insufficient starch to stabilize the emulsion.
- A combination of the above.
The most effective solution is to:
- Dissolve some more cornstarch in a half cup (50 ml) of wine.
- Put the fondue back on the stove top over medium heat.
- When it is boiling, lower the heat and slowly add the slurry while beating vigorously until thickening of the starch has occurred.
- If it is too thick, add more wine, a little at a time until the right consistency is achieved, stirring constantly.
- If necessary add some more grated cheese to taste.
Once you learn how it's done, this is always effective.