Dip, devour: It's National Chocolate Fondue Day

 

This chocolate pecan fondue from tasteofhome.com is just one of many variations on this sweet dipping dessert said to trace back to the 1960s and a New York restaurant.

This chocolate pecan fondue from tasteofhome.com is just one of many variations on this sweet dipping dessert said to trace back to the 1960s and a New York restaurant. Photo by: tasteofhome.com

 

Jan Swoope

 

 

With Valentine's Day just over a week away, it seems a good time to mention that February is National Chocolate Month. In fact, today -- Feb. 5 -- is Chocolate Fondue Day. What better time to remind ourselves how irresistible it is to dip ... well, almost anything ... in melted sweetness?

 

A chocolate fondue can be the centerpiece of a party or a romantic rendezvous for two. The recipe might be as simple as chocolate, heavy whipping cream and a pinch of salt. Or, it can expand to dark, white or flavored chocolate and ingredients like honey, vanilla bean, cinnamon, caramel, peanut butter, cayenne, marshmallow creme, coffee, almonds, pecans or a variety of liqueurs. Dippers are limited only by imagination -- bananas, strawberries, cubes of pound cake, Rice Krispy treats, marshmallows, pretzels, tangerines, cookies, brownies -- the list goes on.

 

For a bit of background, the word "fondue" is derived from the French verb "fondre," which means to melt or dissolve. It all began with cheese: The Swiss are credited with originating fondue as a way to use hardened cheese, according to timeanddate.com. The first fondue recipe appeared in a recipe book published in Zurich, Switzerland, in 1699, cites purdys.com. It called for a blend of melted cheese and wine to dip bread in. The chocolate fondue came about much later -- about the mid- to late-1960s in New York -- but it also originated with a Swiss, Konrad Egli, who was chef at Chalet Suisse in Manhattan at the time, reports europeancuisince.com.

 

 

 

Fondue tips

 

A few tips gleaned from some of the websites mentioned include using the best quality chocolate you can afford for the most flavorful fondue. (eHow.com recommends brands with a minimum of paraffin and processing for best results.) While your chocolate melts, stir constantly to ensure smooth texture. Uneven or extreme heating can cause chocolate to burn or curdle.

 

From popsugar.com:

 

  • Always melt the chocolate over low heat to avoid scorching.

     

  • The dish is easier to manage if you melt the chocolate first over the stove, then transfer it to the fondue pot.

     

  • Keep water or any moisture out of the melting chocolate pot; it will affect the molecular structure of the chocolate, causing it to develop a grainy texture.

     

  • Salvage thickened or lumpy chocolate by stirring in a few teaspoons of vegetable oil.

     

    Do you fondue? Perhaps we should this Valentine's Day because, well, pretty much anything dipped in chocolate is fabulous.

     

     

    CHOCOLATE PECAN FONDUE

     

    Prep/total time: 15 minutes

     

    Makes 1 1/3 cups

     

     

    1/2 cup half-and-half cream

     

    2 tablespoons honey

     

    9 ounces semisweet chocolate, broken into small pieces

     

    1/4 cup finely chopped pecans

     

    1 teaspoon vanilla extract

     

    Fresh fruit and shortbread cookies

     

     

  • In a heavy saucepan over low heat, combine cream and honey; heat until warm. Add chocolate; stir until melted. Stir in pecans and vanilla.

     

  • Transfer to a fondue pot or a 1-1/2-quart slow cooker and keep warm. Serve with fruit and cookies.

     

    Nutrition Facts: 2 tablespoons: 178 calories, 12g fat (6g saturated fat), 6mg cholesterol, 6mg sodium, 19g carbohydrate (17g sugars, 2g fiber), 3g protein.

     

    (Source: tasteofhome.com)

     

     

    PEANUT BUTTER CHOCOLATE FONDUE

     

    Prep/total time: 10 minutes

     

    Makes 12 servings

     

     

    1 cup (6 ounces) semisweet chocolate chips

     

    1/2 cup sugar

     

    1/2 cup milk

     

    1/2 cup creamy peanut butter

     

    4 large firm bananas, cut into 3/4-inch slices

     

    1 pint whole strawberries

     

    Shortbread cookies and large marshmallows, optional

     

     

  • In a heavy saucepan, cook and stir the chocolate chips, sugar, milk and peanut butter over low heat until smooth. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm. Serve with bananas and strawberries.

     

    Nutrition Facts: 1/4 cup: 218 calories, 10g fat (4g saturated fat), 1mg cholesterol, 57mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate (27g sugars, 3g fiber), 4g protein.

     

    (Source: tasteofhome.com/Beverly Olthaus)

     

     

    ORANGE CHOCOLATE FONDUE

     

    Prep/total time: 15 minutes

     

    Makes 1 1/3 cups

     

     

    1/2 cup milk chocolate chips

     

    3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped

     

    1/2 cup heavy whipping cream

     

    3 tablespoons thawed orange juice concentrate

     

    1 frozen pound cake (16 ounces), thawed and cubed

     

    Assorted fresh fruit

     

     

  • In a heavy saucepan, combine both chocolates and cream; cook and stir over low heat until smooth. Stir in orange juice concentrate; keep warm. Serve with cake and fruit.

     

    Nutrition Facts: 2 tablespoons: 278 calories, 16g fat (9g saturated fat), 83mg cholesterol, 177mg sodium, 32g carbohydrate (20g sugars, 1g fiber), 4g protein.

     

    (Source: tasteofhome.com/Mary Jean DeVries)

     

     

  • Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.

     

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