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Serving fondue in a baked pumpkin shell is not just about fun presentation – the sweet, tender squash is wonderful with the salty, sharp richness of the cheese. Either use a whole, large pumpkin for everyone to dip into or small individual squashes.
Serve with cubes of crusty bread for dipping and spoons for scraping the baked squash from the shell. The cheese you use is up to you. I like a mixture of a Gruyere-like cheese (Emmental, Beaufort or Irish Coolea) with a softer cheese such as Taleggio or Fontina.
1 large red or orange pumpkin, about 25–30 cm in diameter, or 4 small, round Red Onion squash or similar
3–4 tablespoons olive oil
a few torn thyme sprigs or sage leaves
sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
for the fondue:
2 teaspoons potato flour or cornflour
300 ml dry white wine, such as Riesling or Grüner Veltliner, or dry cider
1 garlic clove, peeled and halved
1 bay leaf
400 g Gruyere (or see other cheeses mentioned), derinded and thinly sliced or shredded
2 tablespoon Kirsch (optional)
250–300 g Taleggio or Fontina cheese, derinded and thinly sliced or grated
4 tablespoons double cream or crème fraîche
Preheat the oven to 190ºC (375ºF) Gas 5. Cut a lid off the pumpkin or the squashes and, if necessary, take a thin slice off the base so that the shell(s) will stand upright without wobbling.
Scoop out the seeds and enough flesh to leave a shell about 2.5 cm thick (Red Onion squash are fine as they are, just remove the seeds). Rub with the oil inside and out, season with salt and pepper, add a few herb sprigs to the cavity and bake in the preheated oven for about 50 minutes for a large pumpkin or 40 minutes for small squash. Bake the lids as well, if liked, for around 20–25 minutes, depending on size.
Meanwhile, make the cheese fondue. Mix the potato flour with 2–3 tablespoons of the wine and set aside. Put the remaining wine in a medium-sized, heavy-based saucepan over medium heat and bring to the boil. Simmer for 2–3 minutes, then add the garlic and bay leaf and reduce the heat.
Add the Gruyere cheese and, stirring all the time, allow it to melt. When melted, remove and discard the garlic and bay leaf then stir in the potato flour mixture and the Kirsch (if using) until smooth.
Add the Taleggio and stir frequently over low heat until the cheese melts. Add the cream, season to taste and stir over the heat until you have a smooth, velvety texture.
To serve, pour the fondue into the baked shell(s), cover with the lid(s), if using, and carry to the table.
Images and recipes courtesy of Ryland Peters & Small, from COOKING WITH PUMPKINS AND SQUASH by Brian Glover with photography by Peter Cassidy (£9.99 in UK)