the associated press photo
When it comes to melting, low-fat cheeses have a pretty bad reputation. Which can make it a challenge to create lower-fat fondue (the very name of which means “to melt”).
While it is true cheese makers recently have produced better-tasting reduced-fat cheeses, it’s the fat that lets them melt smoothly. Which means a healthier fondue has to keep at least some of the fat.
Most cheese fondue recipes call for at least 750 ml (3 cups) of cheese, which can add up to more than 100 grams of fat.
Creating a lighter cheese fondue that is flavourful and easily coats whatever you dunk into it calls for a simple compromise on the cheese selections and a bit of creativity with the remaining ingredients.
Light Cheddar and Ale Fondue is a delicious example of this.
The cheese is a blend of shredded reduced-fat cheddar (which cuts fat and saturated fat) and shredded extra-sharp cheddar (which brings melting power and intense cheese flavour).
To make the fondue extra thick and silky without needing additional cheese, a puree of white beans (such as great northern, navy or cannellini) is added.
While the beans do add a certain earthiness to the fondue, the sharp cheeses and the assertive taste of the ale provide a flavour backdrop that evens things out. Dry mustard, Worcestershire sauce and a splash of hot sauce also help the balance of flavours.
If you want an even better texture and taste, you can use only full-fat cheese. This does increase the fat, but the bean puree dilutes it enough that the recipe remains much healthier than conventional versions.
To make this treat even healthier, serve cubes of crusty whole-grain bread and cut up fresh vegetables for dunking. This fondue can also stand in as a cheese sauce for drizzling over steamed vegetables or baked potatoes.