Back to the Kitchen: Oooh La La Fondue!

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gwen-upper110x110BY GWEN KENNEALLY

Dip. Swirl and eat. The lost art of fondue is more of a dining experience than a meal or a dessert. The options are as limitless as the beautiful ceramic and metal fondue pots. We all fell in love once again with French cooking, Julia and Boeuf Bourguignon this summer, so I worked to create the perfect fondue party menu.

From the French verb fondre “to melt,” this communal dish mixes so many flavors but the traditional fondue is cheese and wine. And even with its name, it actually originated in Switzerland, but the French perfected it and claim it as their own. It is said that a lonely mountain Shepherd decided one chilly evening to warm his  loaf of cheese with the wine he carried in a leather pouch…and voila, the legend of fondue!

While fondue used to be fussy and challenging,  I have simplified the process to make it super user friendly. These indulgent tasty recipes are a great way to cozy up with friends and family around the fire.

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Basic Swiss cheese fondue

1 clove garlic

1/2-cup dry white wine per person

1 1/2 cup grated Swiss cheese per person

1-teaspoon flour per person

3 tablespoons white wine per person

Freshly ground pepper

Crusty bread cut in bite size pieces

Rub inside of casserole with cut garlic clove. Put in wine and when it starts to warm gradually, add the cheese which has been mixed with the flour. Be sure to stir with a wire whisk as it melts. When cheese is all melted and is bubbling, slowly add white wine Each diner helps himself to bread pieces, which are speared and dunk into the fondue, turning it around to coat all sides. Lift it out of the fondue, twirling the fork to keep it from dripping until you get it over your plate. When cool enough to eat, take the whole piece at one delicious bite. As each guest dunks, he must stir the whole mixture with his fork to keep it from getting thick on the bottom. If fondue gets too thick, you can thin it a bit by adding some warmed wine. After fondue is all eaten, there will be a delicious crust on the bottom of the pan.

Cheddar Cheese Fondue

2 cups milk

1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

2 teaspoons ground dry mustard

1 clove garlic, peeled and crushed

3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

6 cups shredded Cheddar cheese

In a medium saucepan over low heat, mix together milk, Worcestershire sauce, ground dry mustard, garlic and flour. Heat until almost boiling. Gradually stir in Cheddar cheese. Continue heating until all the cheese has melted. Keep the mixture warm and melted in a fondue dish. Dip with cubed bread.

Smoky Chipotle Fondue

10 ounces cheddar cheese

2 Tablespoons White wine

1 tablespoon Dijon Mustard

Splash Worcestershire Sauce

2 chipotle peppers in adobo sauce, finely chopped

4 tablespoons milk

Crusty French bread and Tortilla chips

In a heavy saucepan mix cheese, wine and mustard, Worcestershire Sauce and peppers. Stir over low heat until melted and smooth. Stir in milk and transfer to a fondue pot. Serve immediately with bread and tortilla chips.

Very Romantic Chocolate Fondue

Combine in a medium, heavy saucepan:

1-cup heavy cream

2 tablespoons sugar

2 tablespoons butter

Stirring constantly bring to a rolling boil.  Remove the pan from the heat and immediately add:

12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped

Let stand for one minute, then whisk until smooth. Whisk in:

2 teaspoons vanilla, or a splash of brandy or orange liqueur.

Pour into a fondue pot and serve with any of the following dippers.

Dippers

Fresh fruits – bananas, strawberries, grapes, tangerines, pears, apples, raspberries. Fresh fruit should be ripe but still firm enough to not dissolve while dipping.

Dried fruit – apricots, dates, figs

Cakes or cookies – Bite sized pieces of angel food cake, pound cake, lady fingers or crisp biscotti

Nut Breads – Nut breads can be served toasted or fresh. Cut into bite sized pieces.  Try date nut bread, cinnamon bread, persimmon pumpkin or zucchini breads.

White Chocolate Fondue

One 12-ounce package white chocolate chips or chopped white chocolate

1/4-cup heavy cream

4 tablespoons butter

For dipping: Salted pretzel rods Fresh and dried fruit slices, such as pineapple, crystallized ginger and mango slices or any of the above dippers

In a large saucepan over medium heat, combine cream and butter.

Bring mixture to a simmer, stirring constantly. Remove pan from heat.

Add white morsels. Stir until melted and smooth.

Cool slightly. Transfer to a fondue pot, chafing dish, or ceramic bowl.

Cognac Fondue

1/2-cup sugar

2 tablespoons water

1 1/3         cups warm heavy cream

2 tablespoons Cognac

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

Combine sugar and 2 tablespoons water in heavy medium saucepan. Stir over low heat until sugar dissolves. Increase heat; boil without stirring until mixture is deep amber color, occasionally brushing down sides of pan with wet pastry brush and swirling pan, about 3 minutes.

Add warm cream to caramel. Stir over medium-high heat until sauce is smooth and reduced to 1 1/4 cups, about 5 minutes. Add Cognac and cook 1 minute longer. Remove from heat. Add butter and stir until melted. Transfer to a fondue pot. Serve with any of the above dippers.

Gwen Kenneally is the owner of Back to the Kitchen, Full Service Catering and Party Planning. Check out her website and blog www.Backtothekitchen.net and www.gwenkenneally.blogspot.com

About Karen Young

Karen Young is the founder of My Daily Find.