Fondue; it’s a popular option during the holidays that somehow falls by the wayside throughout the rest of the year.
But who says you need a celebration to justify dipping bread and other goodies into cheese or chocolate? These ideas can help you to incorporate fondue, both savoury and sweet, into your meal plan any night of the week.
Different types of liquid
Whether you’re working with cheese or chocolate, you need something to help start the melting process. With cheese fondue, that typically means a dry white wine, while with chocolate fondue, heavy cream is the base that helps to get the party started. However, there’s no reason that you can’t swap out these liquids for substitutable alternatives.
You could easily use beer, or even a dry cider for cheese fondue. The key is that whatever you use is more on the acidic side, because citric and tartaric acids help to prevent cheese fondue from splitting. So if you choose a liquid that is less acid, be sure to add a squeeze of lemon juice to the works to help prevent this issue.
With chocolate fondue, other high-fat liquids can be used in place of heavy cream. For those looking for a dairy-free alternative, coconut milk is a great go-to.
If you’re looking to add some tang to your fondue, you could always substitute in a couple of tablespoons of sour cream or crème fraiche for some of the heavy cream that your recipe calls for.
Different cheeses and chocolates
It should come as no surprise that the main ingredients in cheese and chocolate fondue are cheese and chocolate, respectively. However, what is surprising is the lack of variety in which cheese and chocolate is typically used.
For cheese fondue, gruyere and emmenthal are staples, however there’s no reason why you can’t use another good melting cheese instead. Spanish fontina is wonderfully buttery, while adding a moderate amount of blue cheese to finish will add a spicy kick to traditional fondue.
If you’re opting for beer instead of wine, a sharp cheddar or Gouda will make a fondue somewhat reminiscent of beer cheese (and don’t forget the pretzels for dipping).
For chocolate fondue, the best advice we can give is to not cheap out on the chocolate. Given that the only two ingredients are chocolate and cream, if you don’t go for the good stuff, it can be quite apparent.
Try and avoid anything that’s loaded with sugar and other additives, but rather look for chocolate that is predominantly cacao. Alberta bean-to-bar producers like Kin + Pod, Jacek, and Choklat, are great places to start. Plus if you select chocolates from multiple origins, you can taste test their resulting fondues side by side to see what you like best!
Add in extra flavourings
Finally, you can always add a twist to your fondue by playing with additional flavours. The easiest way to do this is to infuse the liquid, wine or cream, with the ingredients of your choice. This way you don’t end up with any bits and pieces of herbs or spices in the fondue itself.
For example, you could infuse wine for cheese fondue with shallots, citrus zest, and herbs, and then strain these ingredients out before adding in the cheese. Same goes with the cream in chocolate fondue, except that you’d want to opt for sweeter infusions, such as tea, coffee, lavender, or simply a fresh vanilla or tonka bean.
If you want to leave the fondue preparation to the experts, check out these restaurants across the province:
- The Grizzly House (Banff)
- The Waldhaus (Banff)
- Moonlight & Eli (Calgary)
- The Living Room (Calgary)
- Monki Bistro (Calgary)
- The Melting Pot (Edmonton)
- Brasserie Bardot (Edmonton)
- Cacao 70 (Calgary and Edmonton)
2 Tbs butter
2 Tbs all-purpose flour
1 Tbs (15 mL) Dijon mustard
4-5 drops of Worcestershire sauce
½ cup (125mL) porter beer (for local beer I’d suggest Village Blacksmith)
¾ cup (180 mL) heavy cream
1½ cups aged cheddar cheese, shredded
To taste dried Aleppo pepper
To taste salt and pepper
Cubed pumpernickel rye bread
Veggies of your choice (broccoli, cauliflower, cherry tomatoes, mushrooms)
- Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in flour and cook for 2-3 minutes, stirring constantly.
- Add in the mustard and Worcestershire sauce and whisk until smooth. Then gradually pour in the porter, whisking constantly. Finally, whisk in the cream.
- Bring this mixture to a simmer until it thickens, similar to making a béchamel sauce or roux-based gravy. Then whisk in the cheese until melted.
- Finally taste and adjust seasoning with salt, pepper, and Aleppo. Serve as you would traditional cheese fondue, with bread and a variety of vegetables for dipping.