I love cheese dip in all it’s forms. Beer cheese is such a fall classic and to be honest I started this process thinking I would create some kind of Oktoberfest beer dip, but I’ve already hit that note with delicious Bubbling Beer and Bacon. It struck me that hard cider would add a really interesting sweet and savory contrast that would be delicious with salty pretzels and sweet apple slices for dunking. And it is a very nice twist. It has all the cheesy goodness, but is a bit sprightlier. It’s been a hit when I serve it, with everyone guessing at the special flavor. If you want some more cheese dip ideas, check out my Smoked Gouda Fonduta or Cheese and Caramelized Onion Fondue Dip.
Cornstarch and evaporated milk are the keys to smooth cheese dip that doesn’t split or get oily. Use a really nice sharp aged cheddar (I like Kerrygold) for extra bite, while the fontina melts really smoothly. I use bottled hard cider for this, but not an amber or particularly dark one (Stella Artois Cidre is good). It’s lovely to serve some cider with the dip, but if you aren’t a regular drinker look at the “build your own six pack” selection many groceries have in the beer section. Buy one bottle of cider and the rest of your beer of choice. I love this with salty, hard, thick pretzel rods or rings, but it is equally delicious with soft pretzel nuggets. Corn chips or thick potato chips are tasty too. Thick apple slices are perfect, but pears would be lovely. I serve this straight from the pot – it stays dippable for quite awhile – but you could transfer it to a chafing dish to keep warm.
Hard Cider Cheese Dip
8 ounces aged sharp cheddar cheese
8 ounces fontina cheese
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
1 (12-ounce) bottle hard cider
1 cup evaporated milk
1 Tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Pretzels and apple slices for dipping
- Grate the cheddar and fontina cheese into a ziptop bag. Add the cornstarch and shake to coat all the cheese. Pour the cider and the evaporated milk into a heavy pot, about 2 quarts, and heat over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until it is warm through and steaming. Do not bring to a boil. It may look a little curdled, don’t’ worry it will smooth out. Whisk in the mustard and Worcestershire. Add the cheese a handful at a time, whisking well, until all the cheese is incorporated and smoothly melted. The dip can be kept warm at low heat for 30 minutes or so, but stir frequently and do not leave on the heat for too long or it will scorch. The dip can be gently reheated over medium low with some additional evaporated milk whisked in.
- Serve warm with pretzels and apple slices for dipping.