Holiday Fondue Fun

Matt Robinson shares an interactive way for the whole family to chow down together

How do you want to kick start your holiday party this season: placing static party platters on a table or setting up fun cheesy pots of fondue for everyone to get dipping? If you are like me and like to keep things interactive and participatory, then option 2 is the right answer to kick-start an engaging, festive holiday bash. 

Why Fondue?

It’s fun, retro and it’s a great ice breaker. People love it partly because of the kitsch factor, but more so people are just so curious about these bubbling pots of cheese. Everyone knows what fondue is from their parents, but how many of us have actually experience a bonafide fondue party? It’s the kind of experience that gets a party started with everyone getting right to being friendly with one another. I mean, who can be shy and reserved when you’re all about to dip into a communal pot of hot cheese?

Fondue Pro Tips

The Tools:

  • Choose a fondue pot that is gel, alcohol or butane powered. A candle powered fondue is not strong enough.
  • Buy extra skewers. Most fondue sets come with only 6 skewers. Keep in mind each person should preferably have at least 2 skewers.
  • Set your dippers up on a lazy Susan so there’s less need for passing. 

The Cheese:

  • The traditional cheese sauce is usually a mix of: Swiss, Emmentaler, or Gruyere. You can go for a combination of all three, just two or even you just one. Although doing the latter will yield a pungent kick. 

The Dippers:

  • Choose sturdier breads that won’t go soggy or fall apart when dipped into the hot cheese. Breads like French, pretzel and pumpernickel work best.

Dipper Sidekicks:

  • Fruit. Any combination of sweet and/or acidic types of fruit will work here. The traditional fondue will always have tart apples, but fruits like grapes and figs strike just the right balance of sweet to offset all the richness of the cheese.

Simple, right? The recipe below for the fondue cheese is just as easy. While you might be tempted to add in all kinds of things to kick it up, just remember the cheese is the star, so you can really muck things up if you get heavy handed with spices, herbs or even the wrong type of wine. Although if for some reason you did go crazy and your cheese starts to break, hit it with a tablespoon of wine at a time until it comes back to a smooth texture. 

Cheese Fondue Recipe

Makes 4-6 servings. 10 min prep. 15 min cook time.

  • ½ lb. Emmentaler, shredded
  • ½ lb. Gruyere cheese, shredded
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled
  • 1 cup dry white wine
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
  • 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt

In a small bowl, coat the cheeses with cornstarch and set aside. Rub the inside of the pot with garlic.

Over medium heat, add the wine and lemon juice and bring to a gentle simmer. Gradually stir the cheese into the simmering liquid. Melting the cheese gradually encourages a smooth fondue. Once smooth, stir in the dry mustard and fine sea salt.

Arrange an assortment of bite-sized dipping foods on a lazy Susan near the fondue pot.

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