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Fondue: Substitution for kirsch?

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I'm making a fairly traditional fondue tomorrow night for a party, but I'm reluctant to buy a bottle of kirsch just for this occasion - I'd probably never use kirsch again, the stuff is expensive, and they don't sell small bottles around here.

Is there something I could use as a substitute - say, brandy? I'd like to keep the fondue old-school (white wine, gruyere and emmenthal cheeses, etc)...unless there's an absolutely awesome new-fangled version out there.

Thanks for your help!

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    Hungry Celeste

    I leave out the kirsch most of the time; no one seems to notice. Most of the time, I used gruyere as the "base" cheese and add the odds & ends of my cheese drawer...gouda, fontina, a little white cheddar...whatever's mild & pale-colored will work just fine.

    4 Replies
    1. re: Hungry Celeste

      I do the same as Candy and leave out the kirsch, but at times use a white wine I have around. That seems to work just fine too, alto I realize it's not at all the same. I tend to keep the cheese pretty much as the recipe says. Fondue parties are such fun--have a great time!

      1. re: jackie

        I did not post on this subject, but I probably would add a bit of brandy or Laird's Apple Jack that would give it a bit of the frutiness Kirsch adds.

        1. re: Candy

          Sorry Celeste and Candy--somehow got who posted what mixed up!

          1. re: Candy

            I agree. Really any kind of fruit-based brandy - including of course cognac. Like the "hint" of garlic, nutmeg or other seasoning, you might not immediately identify what's missing, but something is "wrong" if you forget it IMO.

      2. My mother lived in Switzerland for five years, in an area where they were very serious about fondue. She always used Poire William. Just as expensive as kisch, or more so, I suppose, but perhaps better for drinking the left overs? My mother said the kirsch or whatever added smoothness to the finished product, which I think is true. But I have certainly made fondue without, and it came out okay.

        3 Replies
        1. re: Anne H

          Upon the suggestion of a Whole Foods employee I tried using a cherry lambic, which is a sort of fruit-flavored belgian beer. Since the recipe only calls for a dash of kirsch, I noticed no difference.

          1. re: equinoise

            Since this is resurfaced....I actually used a bit of vodka which I put into the little chopper attachment that came with my immersion blender, along with some dried cherries. Whizzed them up until smooth and used that. The fondue came out wonderfully.

          2. re: Anne H

            I love both Kirsch and Poire William but have made excellent cheese fondue many times without it. The small amount of KIrsch is for flavor and probably not for smoothness. The wine (or beer) that the cheese is melted in, however, is absolutely needed to keep the mixture smooth.

            IMO the quality of the cheese is much more important that whether you enhance it with Kirsch or other fruit bandy.

          3. Double check your supermarket - my Safeway sells small bottles of Kirsch (6 oz.) and it will keep or can be used in your summer Clafouti! I never leave it out of my fondue, but I'm a purist. I'm sure others will tell you there is no discernable difference and they are probably right, but just an FYI that you don't have to buy a big bottle of the ingredient.

            1. We generally requested that restaurants omit the kirsch. We find it makes the fondue too bitter. As to the wine, we generally buy the cheapest dry white wine we can find (12.5% alcohol or more). We learned to make fondue in France/Switzerland, and the wine we bought there cost 4 francs (at that time, 80 cents). Of that, 3 francs was the deposit on the returnable (flip-top) bottle. Twenty cents for wine? Was last Thursday a good vintage?