Please drop everything and plan a fondue party. It is the easiest, most crowd pleasing dinner party that you can possibly throw. No fondue pot? No problem. In fact unless you are going to do this once a week I see no point in letting one take up space in your kitchen. If you really care that much about having the named piece of equipment, just grab one at a thrift store, use it, and donate it right back afterwards. Fondue sounds impressive, but it is truly as easy as prepping some dip-able items, melting cheese and chocolate, dunking, and enjoying.
Equipment and set up:
- 1 small pot for up to 6 people, more than that and go with 2 pots and a doubled recipe
- 1 fork per person (or grilling skewers if you have them, but maybe not with kids)
- 1 trivet per pot
- If you have a small crock pot you could use that instead, but I wouldn’t use one that is too wide because it will likely result in a flat cheese/chocolate brick
- If you have a small heating pad you could also use that under the pot to keep it warm, but not necessary
- Don’t use a tablecloth or place mats, melted and cooled cheese and chocolate are 100x easier to wipe off of a table than pick off of cloth
Adapted from Alton Brown – Serves 6
Plan to dip whatever you like to eat that you think would be even more delicious doused in cheese. Some variety of bread, vegetables, and protein. This is what I served recently, but it is infinitely adaptable to your tastes. For 6 people:
- 1 loaf of really good bread
- 1.5 lbs of sausage
- 1.5 lbs roasted red skinned potatoes
- 1 lb of roasted broccoli with garlic
- 1 Macintosh apple (stick with tarter varieties)
Alternatively: soft or hard pretzels, chicken (or any leftover meat), cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, mushrooms, carrots, parsnips….just please try the apple. My whole party was skeptical, but that apple was gone by the end. If you want to make your life really, really easy then outsource the dipping items to your guests and just make the cheese.
- 10 oz melting cheese (I used 4 oz Gruyere and 6 oz Gouda)
- 4 teaspoons cornstarch
- 12 oz dry hard cider
- 1 tablespoon lemon juice
- 1 tablespoon brandy (optional)
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/4 teaspoon curry powder
- Freshly ground pepper
(First prep all dipping ingredients, and keep the veg and meats warm in a low oven while you melt the cheese.) Grate both cheeses and mix with corn starch. Put cider, lemon juice, brandy (if using), and salt in a small, heavy saucepan. Turn the heat to medium and bring to a simmer. Add the cheese one handful at a time, stirring until it is fully melted. Then add the next handful in the same manner. Reduce the heat if the mixture begins to bubble. Once all the cheese is melted and coats the back of a spoon, add in the curry powder and pepper. Serve immediately.
Now is the time to clear the plates, let your pot soak, and play a game with your guests. The discussion will inevitably turn to making all meals small items dipped in hot, luscious substances. Then you will further impress them by revealing that dessert will also be fondue, this time chocolate and even easier. The equipment needed is exactly the same, the ingredients fewer, and the process simpler.
- Some kind of baked good, such as pound cake or peanut butter cookies (nothing too crumbly)
- Fruit, fresh or dried such as strawberries, raspberries, bananas, oranges/clementines
- 12 oz chopped chocolate, I used semi-sweet
- 1 cup of cream (more if you like you fondue runnier, less if you like it thicker)
- 1/2 teaspoon instant coffee
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
Chop any larger fruits or cakes into bit sized pieces (good job to outsource to guests!). Melt all ingredients in a small, heavy saucepan over medium low heat while stirring constantly. Be careful not to let the chocolate burn, if you’re worried you could use a double boiler. Heat for a couple more minutes after the chocolate is fully melted, then serve immediately.