Homemade chocolate fondue will attract picky kids and adults with a sweet tooth. Fondue has a long history — the cheese variety was first mentioned in Homer’s Iliad, according to BBC.com — but it can be made with modern flair. Use high quality chocolate, a few unconventional dippers and wait for compliments to come rolling in.
The simplest chocolate fondue has only two ingredients: chocolate and heavy cream. Use chocolate chips or chop up chocolate bars into chip-sized chunks. Warm cream in a saucepan over low heat and remove it from the stove. Stir in the chocolate until the mixture is smooth. Most recipes call for a ratio of about three parts chocolate to one or two parts cream. As the fondue melts, you can add more of either ingredient until you’ve achieved a consistency thick enough to cling to the dippers without being so thick that pieces fall into the pot. Add flavorings like extracts, syrups, liqueurs (for an adult crowd) or espresso if you wish. Transfer the mixture to a fondue pot.
The key to pleasing a crowd with your chocolate fondue is providing plenty of conventional foods and a few surprises as dippers. Big chunks of pineapple and bananas, plump strawberries, marshmallows, chunks of pound cake and pretzels are crowd-pleasers. Salty potato chips, nut clusters, sesame sticks, chunks of waffles and brownies are a little less expected. Take the presentation a step further with plates of chopped nuts, sprinkles, coconut flakes and crushed cereal. Quickly dunk the chocolate-dipped treats into these toppings.
The fondue mixture can be made a few days ahead and refrigerated if necessary. It will harden into chocolate ganache, a rich and spreadable mixture that is used to cover cakes and make truffles, and will melt back into fondue if it’s reheated over low heat and stirred frequently. However, the mixture will turn grainy and hard if any moisture gets into it or if it’s overheated. Get a head count before buying ingredients. Sixteen ounces of fondue will serve about four people.
A fondue pot dating back to the fondue craze of the ’70s looks kitschy and cute on a counter, but today’s models are better suited to a crowd. An electric pot doesn’t require the exposed tins of cooking fuel that older models use, and an electric temperature control helps you keep the chocolate warm without burning it. If more than a few people will be eating with you, plan to make at least a few batches of fondue, and always plan for a mess. Spread newspaper or a disposable tablecloth under the fondue pot to catch drips. You’ll also need to grab skewers or fondue forks.
References and ResourcesBBC.com; Tracing Fondue's Mysterious Origins; Caitlin Zaino
The Everything Fondue Party Book; Belinda Hulin
Williams-Sonoma.com: Chocolate Fondue
Saveur: Dark Chocolate Kahlúa Fondue