Wednesday, July 23, 2014

How to Host a Chocolate Fondue Party

Many years ago, on a trip to Switzerland, my husband and I bought a couple of chocolate fondue sets. Over the years, we’ve gotten a lot of use out of these fondue sets. Sometimes we serve chocolate fondue for dessert, after a meat or cheese fondue dinner, or even after a “meat and potatoes” type of entrée.

We’ve also had friends over just for a chocolate dessert fondue. This can be a simple—but fun—way to entertain guests. I’ve also served up chocolate fondue for bridal and baby shower guests, for children’s parties, and for other gals’ get-togethers. Even if you’re not into cooking, chocolate fondue is an easy dessert or party idea to pull off. And once again—I am often thinking of what to serve to my friends on gluten-free diets—chocolate fondue is a super treat to serve to them.

What all is involved? For starters, you need to have something to serve your chocolate sauce in and keep it warm. What’s best is an earthenware or ceramic fondue pot. These pots (rather than a copper or other metal fondue set) are best for chocolate (or cheese fondues) because the heat is more evenly distributed and the chocolate is less likely to scorch. (Metal fondue pots should only be used for meat fondues, which heat hot oil for cooking meat.) Ceramic and earthenware fondue sets are not always easy to find in the United States; however specialty cooking stores and usually carry at least a few.

If you don’t have a chocolate fondue pot, you can improvise by using a small, quart-sized crock pot and keep it on a how setting so the chocolate doesn’t burn. Rival’s 16-ounce “Little Dipper” is just big enough to hold the chocolate sauce recipes below. Turn the crock pot on low, and heat the chocolate fondue for 30 minutes to an hour—just until the mixture is warm. Usually, I’ll make up the chocolate fondue ahead of time, keep it in the fridge, and when we sit down to eat the main meal, I’ll start the chocolate fondue heating in the crock pot.

Here are the recipes for my three favorite chocolate fondue sauces. (If you’re going to be serving up the fondue  to kids, the first recipe is obviously your best bet since this sauce doesn’t contain alcohol.)

1 12-ounce package chocolate chips (semi sweet or milk chocolate)
4 T. butter
2 cans sweetened condensed milk
2 tsp. vanilla extract

16 oz. milk, bittersweet or dark chocolate, grated
1 cup heavy whipping cream
¼ cup kirsch, Irish cream liqueur, Kahlua, Amaretto, Frangelico, crème de cacao, or Grand Marnier

16 oz. milk chocolate, grated
2 T. instant coffee or espresso powder
1 ½ cups heavy whipping cream
2 T. Kahlua or Tia Maria liqueur, optional

For all three recipes, the instructions are basically the same. In a small sauce pan or microwave, melt together the chocolate chips or grated chocolate, and butter, condensed milk or cream. Remove from heat, and stir in the vanilla extract or liqueur. Pour into ceramic fondue pot or crock pot.  Serve the chocolate fondue with a variety of dippers.

*Whole, fresh strawberries
*Banana slices
*Fresh peach slices
*Fresh apple slices
*Fresh raspberries
*Kiwi slices
*Honeydew melon cubes
*Pear wedges
*Fresh, pitted dark sweet/Bing cherries
*Whole, fresh figs
*Mango pieces
*Dried apricots
*Canned mandarin orange segments
*Chunks of fresh or canned pineapple
*Large marshmallows
*Angel food cake cubes
*Pound cake cubes
*Frozen cheesecake cubes
*Brownie cubes (bite-sized pieces; chocolate or butterscotch brownies)
*Vanilla wafers
*Sponge cake cubes
*Lady finger cubes
*Graham wafers

Certainly you don’t have to have all of the above dippers on hand with your chocolate fondue, but ideally you should offer at least 7 to 10 types of dippers for your guests to choose from. Arrange the dippers on a large platter and pass that around the table for your guests to choose what they want. Alternatively, you may want to provide two different trays of dippers, and place one at each end of the table.

Put the chocolate fondue pot in the center of the table, in easy reach of all of your guests. Each guest should have a dessert plate, fondue fork and napkins as well, along with water glasses. (After eating a lot of chocolate, cold water is usually much appreciated!) Adult guests may also like to sip on champagne or a dessert wine while doing their dipping.

If you want to go one step further and make it an even more decadent experience for your guests, you may want to provide a selection of sprinkles for your guests to sprinkle on their chocolate-dipped treat after being coated in chocolate. Shredded coconut, candy sprinkles, mini M&Ms and chopped nuts are some ideas for sprinkles. You can put the sprinkles in shaker containers or small bowls with spoons. Guests can either take a small spoonful or shake some of the sprinkles onto their dessert plates. Then once they’ve dipped a piece of fruit, cake cube, etc., in the chocolate sauce, they can then roll it into the sprinkles on their plate. This can be a fun way to make chocolate fondue even better!

It’s worth noting too that the most scrumptious chocolate fondues use good quality chocolate. This is no time to try to save money with low-quality or generic chocolate chips or chocolate chunks. If you want a smoother, more complex flavor, go with a European bittersweet brand, such as Lindt, Toblerone or Callebaut. Of course, Ghiradelli, Nestle’s and Hershey’s also make good chocolate. It just depends on what taste you’re going for (kids often prefer the more standard milk chocolate rather than a more complex, bittersweet chocolate). Whatever combination of chocolate and dippers you use, it’s sure to be a tasty treat for you and your guests!


No comments:

Post a Comment