The Building Blocks of Fondue

The Building Blocks of Fondue

It's not just melted cheese. The essential ingredients of fondue—liquid, cheese, starch and acid—when combined correctly, become heady and unforgettable. Rich cheeses meld with a liquid base. Acid balances the rich combination, and starch ensures a satiny texture. In this gallery, the hows and whys of preparing the perfect fondue.

CHEESE Since fondue is a Swiss dish, native cheeses such as Gruy&egravere; and Emmenthaler are the traditional choices. But you can create fondue from a variety of cheeses, from cheddar to blue cheese, as long as they melt easily (look for moderate moisture and fat content). Avoid nonmelting cheesessuch as hallo&uacutemi; or feta.
LIQUID Adding alcohol to fondue--be it champagne, beer, or dry white wine--builds flavor, and keeps the cheese from scorching or clumping. Nonalcoholic liquids serve the same purpose. Water is acceptable, though we recommend experimenting with more flavorful fluids like chicken broth or sparkling apple cider.
ACID A squeeze of lemon or splash of dry white wine helps balance the richness in fondue. These elements also introduce acidity,which stabilizes melted cheese; The citric acid in lemon juice and the tartaric acid in wine prevents heated cheese from curdling. If you're not cooking with wine, be sure to add lemon juice to your liquid base.
STARCH The use of cornstarch, potato starch or flour in fondue helps emulsify the fat in the cheese with the liquid, wether it's wine, water, or both, and creates a luxurious silky, melting texture in the process. You won't taste it, but you will enjoy the appealing body that the starch lends to the dish.

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