Following a few post-work drinks one summer evening, a few of us stumbled upon a wonderful little wine bar tucked away in a basement in Earl’s Court. It offered wine and snacks but what had lured us in was the swiss cheese fondue.
It proved to be so delicious that I was inspired to try making one for myself.
Dreaming of dipping cubes of sourdough into delicious molten cheese and twisting the fork to catch the seemingly endless trails of cheese still clinging to the bread, I started my first attempt.
At no point did it occur to me that it wouldn’t work, so when I ended up with globs of soft, pliable cheese floating in a winey, milky mixture I was heartbroken – and hungry.
It had split, and I didn’t know what to do with it. Throwing cheese away isn’t something I do lightly but the mixture was past rescuing, so I opened the bin and said a sad goodbye to the now cold and solid lump.
However, I wasn’t going to give up that easily, and having no shortage of cheese in my fridge I did some more research and then gave it another go. I am sad to say that the second and third attempts went the same way.
But cheesy fondue kept calling to me loudly, so I decided to give it one last go. I read everything I could find about making fondues, took in all the tips, and finally came up with this version which – thank goodness – worked!
The secret seems to be to heat it gently to prevent the fondue from splitting and add just a little lemon juice to stabilise the mixture even further.
Cheese, kirsch and a hint of garlic are always going to be a perfect combination, but add a little black truffle to the mix and your fondue will be elevated from a simple supper to a celebration meal. A great idea for a pre-Christmas get-together or cosy new year party.
Cheese fondue with black truffle
For the fondue
225g emmental cheese, finely grated
225g gruyère cheese, finely grated
1 generous tsp cornflour
1 fat garlic clove, cut in half
290ml dry white wine
Squeeze of fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp kirsch
Generous shaving of black truffle
Cubed and toasted sourdough bread
Optional extra dippers: hard boiled quail eggs, mini roast potatoes, oven-roasted mini chorizo, celery sticks, grapes, crispy bacon strips, oven-roasted gnocchi, cherry tomatoes, clementine segments, roasted carrots, raw asparagus
Put both grated cheeses into a large bowl and toss together with the cornflour until evenly coated.
Rub the inside of a heatproof bowl with the cut sides of garlic and drop the remaining garlic into the bowl. Set over a pan of simmering water but do not allow the bowl to come into direct contact with the water.
Pour in the wine and lemon juice and heat for 3-5 minutes until steaming. Lower the heat under the saucepan and gradually drop handfuls of cheese into the hot wine, stirring all the time. Wait for each handful to melt before adding another and continue until all the cheese is mixed in. Add the kirsch and continue to heat gently until the cheese mixture is smooth.
Arrange your bread cubes and other dippers onto small plates. Just before serving mix a little grated black truffle into the hot cheese mixture and pour into a fondue serving bowl. Grate over some more truffle and serve with the bread and other dipping foods.
If you don’t own a heated fondue set don’t worry, you can serve the fondue mixture in any heatproof bowl set over a plate warmer and use long bamboo skewers in place of fondue prongs.
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