Monday, December 27, 2010


Someone asked for the recipe for the cheese fondue we had on Christmas, so I decided to devote a whole post to fondue!

I'm not exactly sure how fondue became our family's traditional Christmas dinner. I have memories of having cheese fondue when I was a little girl in the 70s - fondue was big back then. I know when I joined my local MOMS Club shortly after Joey was born, they were doing a yearly Mom's Night Out around the holidays where one mom would host a fondue party at her house; she would make several different kinds of fondue and the guests would bring bread, veggies, etc. to dip (I hosted one year!). Then The Melting Pot opened here in SoCal, and I was hooked.

We've been doing fondue on Christmas in our house for several years now. What I love about it, aside from the fact that it's so decadently yummy, is the communal aspect - it's the ultimate in sharing and being together, and that makes it a perfect holiday meal in my book.

There are a million different fondue recipes out there, using all kinds of different cheeses, broths, sauces, and sweets. The fondue I've made on Christmas for the last couple of years is Pub Fondue from The Everything Fondue Cookbook.

In addition to sourdough bread cubes and Granny Smith apple chunks, for dipping I like raw mushrooms and baby red potatoes quartered and cooked. There's really no end to foods you can use for dipping in cheese fondue: carrots, broccoli, celery, tortilla chips, crackers . . .

If you've never made cheese fondue, you should know that it's a little tricky. It's hard to get just the right temperature once it's in the fondue pot; too hot and it bubbles and burns, not hot enough and it solidifies and turns into a big hunk of rubbery cheese. You can't use a simple fondue pot with a candle for cheese fondue - you have to use a pot that gets much hotter than a single candle, but preferably with an adjustable temperature control. I use an electric fondue pot for cheese, like this one:

Even with this, I have a hard time getting the temp right. One of these days I'll get a fondue pot with a Sterno heating element.

Basic chocolate fondue is very simple. Take a small carton of heavy whipping cream (not whipped cream) and heat over low-medium heat in a small saucepan. Gradually add an entire package of chocolate chips, stirring until melted. Voila! That's just a basic foundation; you can add all sorts of different things: a splash of vanilla or liqueur, a heaping spoonful of peanut butter, some marshmallow cream, whatever. You can also use white chocolate chips instead of milk chocolate, or dark chocolate, or butterscotch chips, or peanut butter chips. Some great dippers for desert fondue are sliced bananas, strawberries, angel food cake cut into chunks, Nilla Wafers, jumbo marshmallows, and graham crackers.

And there you have it!

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