Fondue parties. Fondue restaurants. Fondue appetizers. Quiet fondue dinners for two. In recent years, I have seen resurgence of fondue and along with it a wealth of equipment, cookbooks, and discussion. It wasn’t until I did a fondue program a few weeks ago that I came to realize the general allure of this cooking technique – it is really fun! Thus, I would like to share a bit of history, tips, and even a recipe.
Although in the United States we typically consider anything dipped as a potential fondue, there are really four types: Cheese, Oil, Broth and Chocolate. The earliest fondue is traced back centuries to isolated villagers in the Swiss region of Neuchâtel. The traditional Swiss method utilizes Gruyere and Emmentaler cheese, typically mixed with wine. Oil and broth fondues find their roots in French and Mongolian cooking, respectively, while the concept of chocolate fondue is very twentieth century New York.
Regardless of the type of fondue you choose, having the right equipment is the key to fondue success. Modern electric non-stick pots are versatile and easy to use for all types of fondue. If this isn’t an option, metal fondue pots are best for oil and broth which require greater heating, while earthenware, ceramic, or enameled pots are preferred for cheese fondue which is more delicate and will burn easily. Ceramic pots are typically used for dessert fondues which tend to be most delicate of all. In addition to the correct pot, fondue forks or skewers are necessary for dipping. These should have wooden handles to prevent burns.
Finally, fondue etiquette prohibits double dipping! Fondue forks should be used to dip items into the fondue mixture, then the item should be removed onto a plate or bowl. A standard table fork should then be used to eat the item.
A family favorite in my household is easy chocolate fondue. Even if you don’t have a fondue pot, this can be easily prepared in a slow cooker. Combine 2 cups of semisweet chocolate chips with 1 cup of half and half (milk can be used for a healthier version, however the chocolate will not be as creamy). Stir continuously over high heat (if using a slow cooker, low/medium heat if using an electric fondue pot) until the mixture is completely melted. Dip strawberries, bananas, pineapple, marshmallows, angel food cake, and other favorites. Enjoy!