Fondue may seem like it belongs to a bygone era, conjuring up images of polyester pantsuit-clad families seated on a shag carpet around a bubbling pot of cheese. Not so! Fondue is making a comeback, and with good reason. Can you think of a single thing that isn't improved by a coating of liquid cheese or chocolate?
Types of fondue
Three types of fondue are especially popular: cheese, oil and chocolate.
Cheese typically pairs with vegetables, bread cubes, cured meats and just about anything you'd like to dip in molten cheese.
Oil fondue is used to flash cook small pieces of meat or seafood. It is important to keep the temperature of the oil constant, as oil that is too cool will not cook your meat properly, and oil that is too hot may splatter.
Chocolate fondue, that mainstay of weddings and other catered gatherings, is just as delicious in the home. A fantastic dessert, it is usually paired with cut-up fruit, cookies, marshmallows and just about anything you think would benefit from a healthy dose of warm, melty chocolate.
Fondue sets are easy to come by. You can find them at most department stores, kitchen supply stores and online. As with most kitchenware, they come in a wide variety of styles, sizes and prices.
In general, however, a fondue set will include a pot, a holder, a space for a heat source (usually a small can of Sterno) and a set of fondue forks.
Fondue sets are fairly easy to use and will come with instructions. One thing to remember, however, is that you melt your cheese or chocolate or heat your oil on the stovetop before transferring to the fondue pot. The small heat source used with your fondue set is sufficient to keep the liquid at a stable temperature, but it is not designed to provide the initial melting.
All set? Let's melt something delicious!
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 12 oz. chopped semisweet or bittersweet chocolate (or combination of both)
- 1 tsp. extract (vanilla, mint, lemon, etc.)
- Heat the cream in a heavy saucepan, but do not let it boil.
- Add the chocolate and extract, stirring gently until the chocolate is fully melted.
- Transfer to a fondue pot and serve with fruit such as apples, bananas, strawberries, peaches or cherries. Alternatively, try small cookies, marshmallows or bite-size pieces of cake.
- 1/3 lb. each of Swiss, Gruyere and Emmenthal cheeses
- 3 tbsp. flour
- 2 cups milk
- 2 tsp. lemon juice
- Grate the cheese and toss with the flour
- Heat the milk over medium. When it begins to simmer, add the lemon juice.
- Stir in the cheese, stirring constantly until it melts completely.
- Transfer to fondue pot and serve with cubes of French bread, bite-size cut-up vegetables such as broccoli, carrots or bell peppers, or cured meats such as pepperoni, salami or Serrano ham.
No matter which fondue you choose, you will soon find out that not only is it delicious, but the act of sitting around a warm bowl of cheese or chocolate with friends and family, sharing the act of dipping bites of food, is its own pleasure.