Chocolate Fondue: Rich, Decadent and Fun!
Have you ever gathered around a table for chocolate fondue, and experienced a great sharing feeling, while watching a large pot melt entire litres of chocolate into a rich and dark liquid? As Valentine’s Day is approaching, there is nothing more romantic than dipping marshmallows, strawberries and biscuits into thick chocolate sauce together. Truly no other dessert can be likened to the fondue’s elegant, fun and decadent style. But how exactly does it work, and since when did people dip food into hot melted goodness, whether chocolate, cheese or even wine or vodka? Read on to find out everything you need to know!
What is fondue?
Fondue (from the French word for “melted”) is a traditional Swiss dish served in a communal pot (caquelon or fondue pot) over a portable stove (réchaud) heated with a candle or spirit lamp, and eaten by dipping food using long-stemmed forks. The original fondue is the cheese fondue and is recognized as the Swiss national dish, which was later popularized in North America in the 1960s.
The term “fondue” has been generalized to other dishes in which a food is dipped into a communal pot of liquid kept hot in a fondue pot. A chocolate fondue involves small pieces of fruit or pastry that are dipped into a melted chocolate mixture, and fondue bourguignonne, in which pieces of meat are cooked in hot oil or broth.
When was chocolate fondue invented?
Unlike its cheesy counterpart, the chocolate version was invented in the 1960s, and far from its ancestral homeland, in New York City, but by a Swiss-born man nonetheless. Konrad Egli (nicknamed Konni), owner of the restaurant Chalet Suisse (not to be confused with the Canadian chain Swiss Chalet). An NYC institution (closed in 1988), this restaurant was known as a place that honoured the culinary traditions suggested by its name: steady, reliable Swiss regional food, carefully handled, with nothing but the best ingredients involved in the process. James Beard, an American culinary expert and the first chef to demonstrate cooking on network television, wrote admiringly about the place while Konni was still just the head chef there.
As Chalet Suisse’s chef, Egli wanted to add a dessert version of fondue to the menu. His version of chocolate fondue had chocolate, heavy cream and kirsch, a type of German cherry brandy that is also often used in Blackforest Cake.
What can go well with chocolate? In fact, it might make more sense to ask what doesn’t go with chocolate, since there are so many amazing pairings! In any case, here are the best dippers to use for your next chocolate fondue:
- Fruits, for a healthy and sweet touch
- Pieces of cake
- Pretzels, Chips, if you have a saltier taste palette
How to make chocolate fondue?
Chocolate fondue can seem messy, overly fancy, and intimidating to the average home cook. For starters, a proper go-to chocolate fondue recipe only calls for two ingredients: chopped high-quality chocolate or chocolate chips, and heavy cream (plus a little bit of salt). You can use dark, milk, or white chocolate, though ideally not all three together. Oh, and you don’t even need a fondue pot to make it! You absolutely can use one, especially because it lends itself to easy dipping, but a saucepan will work just as well.
To make chocolate fondue, place the chocolate in a serving vessel (whether a fondue pot, saucepan, or bowl). In a separate saucepan, heat the cream and salt over medium heat. Once it’s steaming and you can start seeing tiny bubbles (about 3 minutes in), pour the hot cream over the chocolate. Let the mixture sit for about 30 seconds, then whisk until smooth. Keep the fondue warm, which will give you time to serve bite-sized snacks for dipping.
As it turns out, there are quite a few, as Food & Beverage Magazine put it, “fondues and fondon’ts” for hosting a chocolate fondue party. For starters, just like serving a dish or a drink, it’s more polite to let ladies dip first. Keep napkins away from the burners, or else your fondue might be cut short. Make sure to remember which fondue fork is yours. And always share the last strawberry. In terms of fondon’ts, don’t dip your fingers (or even worse, your tongue) directly into the pot! Also, never knock other people’s forks out of the way, since fondue is all about sharing!
While we’re talking about sharing, let’s take a look at sharing economy. Also known as collaborative consumption or peer-to-peer-based sharing, this concept highlights the ability — and perhaps the preference — of individuals to rent or borrow goods rather than buy and own them.
An important criterion of the sharing economy is that it enables individuals to monetize assets that are not being fully utilized. Underutilized assets range from large goods, such as cars and houses, to products such as tools, toys and clothing.
In the past, people might have discovered and shared such assets through classified ads in a local newspaper or by word of mouth. With the advent of the internet, high availability of computers and mobile payments, the platforms for finding and sharing assets have changed the world.
Nowadays, many companies follow this model, such as Airbnb, Uber, Kickstarter, and many others.
Sharing goods and services is not a new phenomenon — informal sharing has long been a feature of urban life, particularly among the poor, immigrants and minority groups. It can lead to more efficient use of resources, drive down costs of expensive assets, supplement incomes, and promote social interaction.
In these cold winter days, we hope this blog whetted your appetite for a finger-licking chocolate fondue, and made you want to gather all your friends or just one special person around a hot, steaming pot! Share your assets, share your chocolate and share your love! Happy Valentine’s Day!