Weekend Entertaining: Fondue Party

Dinner Parties, Entertain, Menu Ideas

Post-holiday entertaining should be fun, simple and delicious. This weekend, invite your friends over for a convivial hands-on fondue party! Make a light green salad, set out a selection of snacks and dippers, and make two pots of creamy fondue: one cheese, one chocolate. Here’s how to pull it off.

 

Savories

 

Start with a  simple, refreshing salad featuring fresh herbs and a tangy vinaigrette. Create a display of cured meats — prosciutto, coppa, bresaola, terrines or pates. Guests can snack on them as they arrive and enjoy with the fondue.

 

Similarly, bake or seek out good, crusty, flavorful bread. It can be served with the salad, with the cured meats, and cubed for dipping in the fondue. Buy a couple of baguettes at your favorite bakery, or start early and make your own.

 

Cheese Fondue

 

Here, the combination of piquant Emmentaler with stronger, creamier Gruyere yields a fondue that’s rich and flavorful. You can also try different cheeses. Use an equal amount of grated Beaufort for the Gruyere and an equal amount of mild, soft blue (such as Blue Castello or Montbriac or a triple cream such as Brillat-Savarin) for the Emmentaler.

 

6 cloves garlic

2 cups (16 fl. oz./500 ml.) dry white wine such as Sauvignon Blanc

1 3/4 lb. (875 g.) Gruyere cheese, shredded

3/4 lb. (375 g.) Emmentaler cheese, shredded

2 Tbs. kirsch

1 tsp. freshly grated nutmeg

1/2 tsp. freshly ground white pepper

1 1/2 day-old baguettes or equivalent amount of artisanal nut, herb or whole-grain bread, cut into 1/2-inch (12-mm.) cubes

 

If using a ceramic fondue pot, set the oven to 250 degrees F (120 degrees C) and put the fondue pot in the oven to warm. If using a metal fondue pot, skip this step. Fill the burner of the fondue pot with denatured alcohol.

 

Crush the garlic with a garlic press or grate with a grater and put into a large, heavy-bottomed saucepan or directly into the metal fondue pot. Add the wine and place the pan over high heat. As soon as bubbles form around the edges, after about 2 minutes, reduce the heat to medium-low and add the cheeses, a little at a time, stirring with a wooden spoon. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese melts completely into a smooth, creamy mass. Stir in the kirsch, nutmeg and pepper.

 

To serve, light the burner of the fondue pot and place it on the table. Pour the hot fondue from the saucepan into the warmed ceramic pot, or transfer the metal fondue pot directly to the burner. Set out fondue forks and pass the bread cubes. Serves 4 to 6.

 

Sweets

 

Slice seasonal fruits for dipping in your chocolate fondue — we recommend apples, pears, oranges and persimmons. Cubes of angel food cake or pound cake make delicious bite-sized desserts as well.

 

Chocolate Fondue

 

1/2 cup heavy cream

8 oz. semisweet chocolate, finely chopped

1 tsp. vanilla extract

1 pound cake, cut into 1-inch cubes

 

Fill the fondue pot with 2 cups warm water and place the pot on the stand. Fill the fuel burner with oil according to the manufacturer’s instructions and set it on the stand.

In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the cream until steam begins to rise, 2 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat, add the chocolate, and stir until melted, smooth and creamy. Add the vanilla and stir until blended. Pour the chocolate sauce into the porcelain insert and place the insert in the fondue pot. Set the splatter guard on the top.

Set the fondue pot on the table and light the fuel burner, following the manufacturers instructions. Serve with pound cake and individually marked fondue forks for dipping. Serves 6.

 

Party Tips

 

  • A crisp white wine is the perfect pairing for cheese fondue. Try a Pinot Grigio, Sauvignon Blanc, or an Alsatian Gewurztraminer, then move on to dessert wine with the chocolate.
  • If you’re entertaining a large group, shred the cheese ahead of time so that it’s easy to refill the fondue pots when the time comes. Melting the cheese in small batches will produce better results than making one large batch of fondue.
  • Fruit (and veggies, if using) can be sliced ahead of time, but note that apples and pears may discolor if prepped ahead.
  • Make sure you have plenty of fondue forks on hand to accommodate everyone.
  • These is a perfect party to host potluck-style, if you like. Ask friends to bring a salad, fruits and veggies for dipping, while you make the fondue.

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