Fondue is a leisurely way to end a meal as everyone gathers around a
pot of warm chocolate sauce and dips skewered pieces of fruit, cake,
and/or cookies into the sauce. Stemmed cherries are particularly
well suited for dipping as are strawberries,
pieces of cantaloupe, figs, honeydew, kiwi, pineapple, bananas, pears,
oranges, and even slices of apple. Chunks of pound cake are lovely
when smothered in a warm chocolate sauce, as are butter cake, angel
food, or even sponge cake. It is also nice to have some cookies
available - like amaretti, ladyfingers, rolled wafer cookies, and
even chunks of biscotti.
Of course, the main focus of a Chocolate Fondue is the chocolate
sauce. This rich and creamy sauce is made with high quality semisweet or
bittersweet chocolate, cream, a little
sugar, corn syrup, pure vanilla extract, and maybe some Nutella and/or
your favorite liqueur. Try to use a good quality semi sweet or even
bittersweet chocolate that you enjoy eating out of hand. Some of my
favorites are Scharffen Berger, Guittard, and Callebaut, and Valrhona.
Now, while a small fondue pot looks lovely, it isn't necessary. You can
just heat the sauce beforehand in a small saucepan and then transfer it to
a pretty bowl. Reheat the sauce as necessary.
John Mariani in his "Dictionary of American Food and Drink" tells us that
the fondue is of Swiss origin and was first made with melted Gruyere or Emmenthaler cheese and white wine, which explains why the word
"fondue" which comes from the French verb "fondre"
meaning "to melt", was given to this dish. Now, it did take a bit of
time for the fondue to make its way to North America, but when it
did arrive (the 1950s) it was a success. So successful, in fact,
that Konrad Egli of the
Chalet Swiss Restaurant in New York invented the Chocolate
Fondue in the early 1960s as a way to get his diet conscious
customers to buy dessert.