There’s currently a huge trend for reviving retro food favourites – chicken Kiev, scampi and now the good old fondue. The traditional fondue is a melted cheese dish of Swiss, French and Italian origin, which acted as a dip for chunks of bread on long forks. It was adapted to include a pot of hot oil into which lumps of beef were dipped and, by the 1960s, chocolate fondue sets became all the rage. This sociable way of eating is popular for dinner parties and events.
Traditional fondue set
A central pot, often of cast iron, is set upon a burner to gently heat and melt the chosen liquid – originally cheese and wine with seasoning. Diners each have a long fork which is used to spear a piece of bread and dip it into the cheese. The meal is often accompanied by cold meats and pickles. Different areas each have their own specific recipes for the cheese dip, but most involve rubbing the inside of the pot with raw garlic first. French recipes involve a mixture of Comte, Beaufort and Emmenthal cheeses, while the Swiss have developed a number of variations upon the theme involving tomatoes, spices or mushrooms added to the sauce. The traditional Italian fondue sauce is made from Fontina cheese, milk, eggs and truffles.
Fondue Bourguignonne involves heating hot oil instead of cheese and dipping chunks of meat, usually beef. Little dishes of sauce are usually provided on the side.
While the fondue is definite comfort food and none of the above versions can be considered waistline friendly, nor are they quite as indulgent as the modern interpretation of a fondue; chocolate.
The chocolate fondue set
A chocolate fondue set work upon the same basic principles as the savoury dish. It’s beautifully simple to prepare and the dipping and eating process is great fun for a party group or a romantic meal a deux.
To serve eight you’ll need:
- 200g dark or white chocolate
- 100ml double cream
Put all the ingredients into the fondue set and heat gently, stirring regularly, until the chocolate melts and makes a smooth sauce.
A selection of dips could start with the healthier versions, such as strawberries, pineapple chunks, bananas, pears, or dried apricots and ginger chunks in syrup. However if you’re going to go wild, don’t hold back: brownies, marshmallows, biscuits and other small cakes are extra indulgent with a warm chocolate coating.