Chocolate fondues are a great way to spend a cold winter evening. Put a few logs into the fireplace, take out a warm blanket, and cuddle up to dipping strawberries, bananas, and other fruit into melted chocolate. A fondue set used to be a standard wedding present. Now, I have to go out to a culinary store and buy one. However, it’s a great investment, especially if the power goes out.
Fondues of all kinds are enjoyed around the world. They originated many centuries ago in Switzerland. Fondues are a Swiss national dish. Fondue is the French word for “melted.” The traditional Swiss fondue is made of a mixture of cheeses melted with wine, beer, or liqueur.
There are five different types of fondue, as described by the Swiss: 1) Cheese; 2) Burgundian (oil); 3) Bacchus (wine); 4) Asian; and chocolate. First, the cheese fondues are mostly made up of a liquid or a sauce of melted cheeses. Often cut up fruits, vegetables, or cubed breads are dipped.
The cheese fondue is best made in an enamel, or a cast-iron base, or a heavy-glazed earthenware pot. These type of pots will help prevent the cheese from burning. Use strong flavoured cheese. I enjoy a three cheese fondue, where three different cheeses are melted together. Watch closely so that you can make sure the cheese does not burn. If your cheese forms a lump in the bottom of the pot, turn up the heat and keep stirring. Add a teaspoonful of lemon juice if your cheese begins to curdle, while beating well.
You won’t be disappointed if you create a creamy cheese sauce. If you want to create a unique cheese fondue, try adding in, one or more of the following: 2 teaspoons curry paste; freshly ground black pepper, red (cayenne) pepper to taste, 2 or 3 dashes of hot pepper sauce, 2 to 3 teaspoons grainy mustard, dried mushrooms rehydrated, roasted garlic paste, olive paste, spicy hot olives, or cooked and crumbles bacon.
Burgandian and Bacchus fondues are served with bernaise sauce, mayonnaise, and condiments such as mustard, tomato sauce, and chutneys. Asian fondues can be sweet or savory. A hot pot of flavours makes these fondues delicious with a group of three or four friends. An example is a Mongolian fir epot, where meat stock is heated with dry sherry. Dipping sauces accompany an Asian fondue. Vietnamese Laus might have crushed peanuts. Thinly sliced beef sirloin or tenderloins are often dipped lightly with sesame oil and ground white pepper before being dipped into the fondue sauce. Cilantro, Thai, or sweet basil, are commonly served with Vietnamese vegetarian platters.
Above is a great example of an Asian hot pot, or “fire pot.” You can see the rolled up thinly sliced beef, plus many of the dipping sauces. Often crisp lettuce leaves are used to place your cooked meat inside. Then you add sauces to give it an added flare. Ground peanuts are often used.
Another interesting hot pot is one made of coconut and seafood. To make the broth for this hot pot start with heating oil over medium heat. Brown shallots and garlic 2-3 minutes in the oil. Then add freshly chopped ginger or galangal, 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes, 1 tablespoon salt, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 1/2 cups thin coconut cream or thick coconut milk, and 4 cups water and let come to a boil. When serving add lime juice to the pot and bring broth to a rapid simmer. Crisp, fresh vegetables, such as bean sprouts and green onion hardly need more than two minutes to cook. The thicker the vegetable, the more timer required in the broth to be completely cooked. Often you will see small wire-mesh baskets to lift up from the broth cooked vegetables.
Finally, my favourite type of fondue is the chocolate one. Melted dark chocolate makes a great combination with fresh: sliced bananas, cubed pineapple, and of course strawberries. Using a long thin fondue fork, pierce individual banana slices and dip into the fine chocolate. Let it cool a few minutes before you decide to devour each bite.
Just remember you can always design your own unique fondue. Besides rubbing garlic around the inside of your fondue pot, it is well known that you can add some Kirsch to your fondue. Make sure that you never rush making your fondue. Keep stirring. And never let it burn. You will be guaranteed to have a delicious fondue.