Queso dip #1

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I used to love a queso dip, frequently getting the Tostitos version in a jar. More recently, however, I tried it and was underwhelmed. How hard could it be to make spicy cheese dip, chile con queso, from scratch?

After lots of Googling, I determined that it is not quite as easy as it sounds. You can't just heat up cheddar cheese and expect to get a reasonable cheese dip. There are three general solutions I found:

1. Use a melting cheese, such as Velveeta, or a combination that you'd use in fondue, like Emmentaler and Gruyère.
2. Use evaporated milk. I saw this a few times, but don't entirely understand how it works.
3. Use a melting salt. That's part of what makes Velveeta meltable, but we can add a tiny bit to actual cheese, too.

I went with #3. This was a tiny taster, but it was good!

By the way, if you're looking for normal fondue, my fondue recipe is here.

2 oz. shredded "Mexican 4-cheese blend" (Monterrey Jack, cheddar, queso quesadilla and Asadero). I used Sargento.
0.02 oz. sodium citrate (1/8 tsp.)
2 pickled jalapeno slices, minced
heavy cream

This is my sodium citrate. Given that I used 0.02 oz., I didn't even begin to make a dent in the 16 oz. package I bought!

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I mixed all of the ingredients in a saucepan on my induction hot plate over very low heat. I didn't get a measurement on the cream because I just kept adding it until the dip became the right consistency.

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I served it in a pre-heated ramekin. Fill a ramekin with water and microwave it for 30 seconds or as necessary until the water boils. That will help keep the cheese melted. That's a 2 oz. ramekin, and not all of the cheese fit in it. There's probably enough to mostly fill a 4 oz. ramekin.

An even better idea would be a heated personal fondue pot, like this one.

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Also, it works best to wipe out any excess cheese from the pans, ramekin and your spoons with a paper towel while it's still hot.

In any case, this was a good first try, and makes a nice snack-size serving for two.


Update May 17, 2014: I made a half recipe, with 1.0 oz. cheese, and it was a perfect size for one. The problem I'm getting is that it's only spicy hot when you eat one of the pieces of jalapeño because the spicy heat does not infuse through the cheese. I think next time I'll reduce some of my hot pepper vodka in the pan before adding the cheese, cream, and sodium citrate. Maybe that will work.

I also have a queso dip #2 recipe, but that's still a work in progress. This one works better.

Now there's queso dip #3. I like that one. It's very similar to this one, but I added some pasilla chile powder and adjusted the quantities a bit.