The Washington Post

Hard Cider Rarebit

Hard Cider Rarebit 3.000

Dixie D. Vereen for The Washington Post

Dinner in Minutes Nov 8, 2016

Make this melted cheese sauce on toast when you're in the mood for belly-warming comfort food. Don't try to explain the name (a few hundred years and an ocean away in origin), and avert your eyes from the nutritional analysis -- for one night only.

It's nice to use individual gratin dishes, but you could also serve the cheese sauce in a communal pot (think fondue) for dipping toast batons and pear wedges.

Serve with a salad of watercress and chunks of fresh, ripe pear.


When you scale a recipe, keep in mind that cooking times and temperatures, pan sizes and seasonings may be affected, so adjust accordingly. Also, amounts listed in the directions will not reflect the changes made to ingredient amounts.

Tested size: 3 servings

  • 3 thick slices crusty bread
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • 2 tablespoons plus 1 1/2 teaspoons flour
  • 1/2 cup dry cider
  • 1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard, preferably Colman's (English, not powdered) or Dijon
  • Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 large Bosc or Bartlett pear
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons apple brandy or Calvados
  • 3 sprigs fresh thyme (may substitute finely chopped chives)


Position an oven rack 4 to 6 inches from the broiler element; preheat the broiler.

Meanwhile, toast the bread. Place each slice in an individual gratin dish.

Melt the butter in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to form a roux, then remove the pan from the heat just long enough to gradually whisk in the cider until smooth.

Return to the heat; once the mixture is bubbling, reduce the heat to low. Stir in the cheese, mustard and nutmeg. Remove from the heat and season generously with the pepper.

Peel and core the pear. Cut half of it into long wedges that are not too thick, and cut the rest into small dice.

Crack the egg into a liquid measuring cup. Add the apple brandy or Calvados and stir until lightly beaten. Whisk a few spoonfuls of the cheese mixture into the egg (to temper it), then pour it all into the saucepan, whisking until well incorporated. Add the diced pear and stir to incorporate.

Arrange some pear wedges on each piece of toast, then pour the cheese sauce over them, dividing it evenly among the gratin dishes. Broil for a minute or two, watching closely, just until lightly browned on top and bubbling. Pluck the leaves from each sprig, letting some fall on top of each portion. Serve hot.

Recipe Source

Adapted from “Simple: Effortless Food, Big Flavors,” by Diana Henry (Mitchell Beazley, 2016).

Tested by Bonnie S. Benwick.

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Nutritional Facts

Calories per serving: 410

% Daily Values*

Total Fat: 21g 32%

Saturated Fat: 12g 60%

Cholesterol: 120mg 40%

Sodium: 480mg 20%

Total Carbohydrates: 36g 12%

Dietary Fiber: 3g 12%

Sugar: 10g

Protein: 15g

*Percent Daily Value based on a 2,000 calorie diet. Your daily values may be higher or lower depending on your calorie needs.

Total Fat: Less than 65g

Saturated Fat: Less than 20g

Cholesterol: Less than 300mg

Sodium: Less than 2,400mg

Total Carbohydrates: 300g

Dietary Fiber: 25g

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