Please welcome guest author Garrett McCord.
Fondue has finally made a comeback, as most culinary fads eventually do, but this time with a bit of spark. Back in the seventies a party wasn't groovy unless a fondue pot was rolling. Nowadays, fondue fountains and fondue restaurants are all the rage but few people seem to be doing them at home, which is a shame considering how easy (and cheap) it is. Fondue gatherings are also a great chance to be interactive at the table and even those who don't cook can enjoy the simple play of dipping and eating.
Chocolate fondue in particular is laughably simple. Melted chocolate becomes the base for infinite varieties of dippables. Plus the chocolate can easily be flavored to perk the senses and create astounding flavors and variety. While great for a party, chocolate fondue is also the perfect way to end a romantic meal at home. The set up can be done way in advanced and the only thing you have to do later is turn on a little flame to get your own flame burning.
Using a fondue pot isn't mandatory, but it does make it easier and adds a certain sense of class. If you are using a regular pot, once the chocolate is melted put an oven mitt down on the table and place the pot on top and begin to dip. The chocolate may cool rather quickly if it is in a regular pot. However if you are using a fondue pot, with a little flame underneath it, the chocolate will keep nice and warm, and melted much longer.
As for what to dip feel free to pick and choose; many people enjoy baked goods such as brownies, pound cake, marshmallows, and the ever lovely ladyfinger. Fresh fruit such as strawberries, pears, or bananas are always romantic and a bit healthier. And as always dried fruit such as apricots or large chunks of candied ginger make for a nice set-up.
- 12 ounces of dark chocolate (chips or roughly chopped if from a block)
- 8 ounces of heavy cream
- A pinch of salt
- Dippables such as strawberries, banana pieces cut into 1-inch chunks, dried appricots, candied ginger, apple pieces
- Warm the cream over moderate heat until tiny bubbles show and begins to lightly and slowly boil. Add the chocolate and whisk until smooth and full incorporated.
- Immediately transfer to a fondue pot heated at low or with a low flame, or serve straight from the pot.
- Arrange the dippables on a platter or plates around the chocolate pot. Use a fondue fork, bamboo skewer, seafood fork, or salad fork to dip the fruit pieces and other dippables into the hot melted cream chocolate mixture. Eat immediately.
- If the fondue begins to feel a little stiff, add a tablespoon of heavy cream and stir. It will help it go a little longer. Eventually, it will cook down though and you may need to start a new pot.
Add a tablespoon or two of Bailey's Irish Cream to the chocolate. Other liquors such as Grand Marnier, Amaretto, or Kirsch are equally yummy.
Add a 1/2 teaspoon of cinnamon and ancho chili pepper for a nice Mexican Chocolate.
The contents of a vanilla pod or some vanilla extract are always a decadent touch to chocolate.
A good pinch of espresso powder can do wonders!
Orange zest or grapefruit zest is nice way to create a slightly fruity chocolate.
A few tablespoons of Torani flavoring syrups (the kind used for coffee or Italian sodas) can add a nice dimension of flavor as well.
White chocolate is always a nice change, and spiked with a little liquor or citrus zest becomes heavenly.
Steeping the cream for an hour beforehand and while heating it can add a nice subtle flavor, lemongrass for white chocolate or a bag of Earl Grey tea for dark chocolate are particularly stylish and contemporary.