Sunday, January 23, 2011

Fondue Fun

We have somehow found ourselves in possession of three fondue pots.  I am pretty sure we received two as wedding gifts, but as to how a third one has joined the ranks, your guess is as good as mine.  The point is that we actually use them....sporadically if I'm being entirely honest, but they do venture out of their boxes at least once or twice a year.  I personally think the experience of fondue is a blast and need not be confined to the four walls of The Melting Pot.  Please know that I'm so not hating on that place; on the contrary, I love it.  But I also love to eat at home for the sakes of frugality and relaxation, as well as to rock the clearly necessary expandable pants without shame. 

Our great friends helped me celebrate my birthday with a seriously fun, delicious, and rather disgustingly excessive fondue feast.  We skipped the main course, raw meat bit and opted to simply gorge ourselves on cheese and chocolate.  I mean, that's the good stuff anyway, right? 

We kicked off the party with a dainty appetizer of Roasted Shrimp Cocktail, courtesy of my Barefoot BF.  It's a yummy departure from the standard shrimp cocktail we've all had, and the spicy sauce is fantastic.  The appetizer certainly wasn't necessary from the perspective of food quantity.  I mean, we were preparing to park ourselves in front of a mound of savory dippers and a pot of cheese - which I'll chat about in a sec - followed by a pot of rich chocolate and a platter piled with bite-sized sweet things to dip into that.  I guess I just thought the addition of shrimp demonstrated an attempt at nutritional redemption in the otherwise truly naughty meal.  Yes, I'm calling it a meal.

I realized later that I actually forgot to take a photo of the cheese course.  I suppose the overcoming excitement to dive in presented too much distraction.  We dipped Granny Smith apple slices, cubes of a bakery sour dough loaf, baby carrots, cauliflower florets, and my personal fave, tangy cornichon, into a glorious pot of Neufchatel Cheese Fondue.  This is a 50/50 mixture of grated Gruyere and Emmenthaler, which I think has a great amount of flavor without being too sharp.  The technique is fun and easy: 

Neufchatel Cheese Fondue

1 clove garlic
1 cup dry white wine
10 oz Emmenthaler cheese, shredded
10 oz Gruyere cheese, shredded
1 1/2 Tbsp corn starch mixed with 1/4 cup kirsch or brandy
1/4 tsp ground white pepper
pinch of freshly grated nutmeg

Rub a heavy bottom sauce pan with a clove of garlic.  Place the pot over medium heat, add the wine and bring to a boil.  Immediately reduce heat to low, and add the cheese, stirring slowly until just melted.  Add cornstarch mixture, pepper and nutmeg, and simmer for about 2 minutes more.  Pour the fondue into a warmed fondue pot and serve immediately.

I mean, yum.

Next came the chocolate!  The first step was to prep the yummy dippers:

I don't know if it's the experience of fondue or what, but rational dessert portions go out the window when a pot of chocolate is present.  When would it normally be okay to eat multiple brownie bites, rice krispie treats, macaroons, pound cake cubes and marshmallows - and THEN dip them in a mixture of chocolate and heavy cream?  I think I'll just put that thought behind me and rest in the fact that the damage is done.  You know what?  It was worth it!

Classic Chocolate Fondue

1/4 cup heavy cream
2 Tbsp kirsch, triple sec or brandy
9 oz milk chocolate, preferably Swiss, chopped

In a double boiler over simmering water, heat the cream and liqueur or brandy.  Add the chocolate, and stir until smooth.  Transfer to a warmed fondue pot, and serve immediately.

Don't write off fondue for a fun dinner party or girls' night option!  It's easy, fun and totally scrumptious.


E. Catesby said...

Let me just tell you that the meal was DELICIOUS! The shrimp were a tasty start, combinations of cheese was delicious, and the chocolate was to die for. Any time you want to bring out those pots again, I am there. Thank you again for a wonderful night and happy, happy birthday sweet friend!! We love you!

Emily said...

We'll totally do this again! Love you too!!

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