Generally when it comes to fondue, I’m a purist. White wine, sherry, Gruyere…though I do usually add a bit of Fontina, for some extra melty factor. My electric fondue pot is probably one of the kitchen items I’d save if our apartment was burning down. I don’t use it that often, maybe 3-4 times a year, but if you’ve ever made fondue in one of those sterno pots, I’m sure you understand.
My husband and I have always been the type of people who will travel for good drink. A favorite bar of ours is the Cooper Mine Pub in North Arlington. Not exactly next door to Brooklyn, it’s a bit of a hike. I was extremely disappointed when they had a promo night for Doc’s Hard Cider on a night I had a conflict. I’m a big cider fan and Doc’s is by far my favorite. And somehow the cheapest, coming in around $5 a bottle compared to most others that are $10+. Plus, it’s super local, made just a few hours north in Warwick, New York. While I was unable to attend, my husband went with friends and brought me back a growler of their wet hopped cider.
If you’ve never had a hopped cider, it presents all the floral notes of what you’d find in an IPA, without the signature bitterness, because of the different brew processes. I try to steer clear of IPAs, because while I like the initial sip, the lingering bitterness usually puts me off. I always thought it was hops I didn’t like, but find hop ciders to be welcoming and incredibly addictive. The plan was to do something special with the cider, rather than just drink it all in one sitting. I’ve always been a fan of apples and cheddar, and fondue. Why couldn’t the two work together? I’m generally a bit weary of melting cheddar as it doesn’t become as creamy as most cheeses. I went with Gouda and Fontina as most of the base to bump the creaminess, then choose a mild, clothbound cheddar, recommended by the cheesemonger at Whole Foods. I was told it melted beautifully. I wasn’t disappointed. Spiced with a bit of cinnamon and nutmeg and served with bread and apples, it was almost as good as my original recipe. Next time, we’ll try it with beer.
Cheddar and Cider Fondue
- 1 1/2 c shredded mild cheddar (I used Cabot clothbound)
- 1 c shredded Gouda
- 1 c shredded Fontina
- 2 tbsp cornstarch
- Pinch each of cinnamon and cayenne
- 1/2 c wet hopped cider
- 2 apples, cut into bite-sized chunks (I prefer winesaps)
- 6 c bread, cut into 1/2- inch chunks (about 1/2 baguette)
In a large bowl toss cheeses with cornstarch and spices. Heat cider in your fondue pot on medium-low (dial 3-4) until tiny bubbles start to form. Gradually add cheese mixture, whisking as you go to make sure creamy. When ready to serve, the fondue pot should still be on low but NEVER allow the cheese to boil. Serve with cubed apples and bread.