While you could create a romantic candlelit fondue dinner for two, it’s easier and just as much fun to invite several other couples to join you. I suggest three to four couples total, including the hosts, depending on how many courses you want to include in your meal. If you don’t mind hosting it potluck- style, asking each couple to bring ingredients for one course not only disperses the food prep, it also adds variety as each couple has the opportunity to select their favorite ingredients to share.
Oftentimes we think of fondues as strictly melted cheese or chocolate. But Webster’s Dictionary defines fondue as both a preparation of melted cheese usually flavored with white wine and kirsch and a dish that consists of small pieces of food (meat or fruit) cooked in or dipped into a hot liquid. A menu with two cheese fondues, hot oil or broth for cooking meats and vegetables, and a chocolate fondue for dessert suit a Valentine’s couples party quite well. If you choose to have two cheese fondues, try to ensure that they contain different cheeses - one sharp and one mild - or different seasonings.
Add flavor to your fondue meal through the morsels you choose for dipping.
Here are my favorite dippers for each type of fondue:
Hot Oil or Broth
You will also want to serve sauces with the meats. Some options include mustard sauce, barbecue, hoisin, curry, chimichurri, piquant, béarnaise, and chipotle mayo.
Now is your chance to break out that fondue pot you received as a wedding gift! Don’t have one? You can always make do with a Crock-Pot set on low (taking care to stir often) or a regular pot set over a heat source such as a chafing fuel, gel burner, or electric burner. Or borrow a fondue pot from a friend or relative. You will want one pot for each course of the main meal, reusing one for dessert. Fondue forks are highly recommended as well - particularly for use in cooking meats. The longer rod keeps your fingers safe and the heatproof handles make it possible for the fork to be left in the pot of oil or broth without heating up. Plus, many fondue forks are color-coded, allowing each guest to Keep track of their fork in the pot. Table forks can be used with cheese and chocolate fondues, although you’ll find it easier to stab and hold onto dippers using a fondue fork.
A Lazy Susan can also be quite handy for either serving dippers or sauces used on meats. One created for a fondue meal contains a stationary centre platform for the fondue pot, surrounded by a rotating tray for sauce bowls.
CLASSIC SWISS FONDUE
Rub inside of saucepan or fondue pot with garlic, then discard. Pour wine and lemon juice into pan and heat on medium until simmering, not boiling. Reduce heat to low and add cheese to wine, a handful at a time. Stir until melted between additions. Add Kirsch and cook for 2 more minutes. Season with nutmeg and cayenne. Keep on warm heat in fondue pot to serve.
MUSTARD SAUCE (for dipping cooked meats)
Combine the brown sugar, dry mustard, and flour in the top of a double boiler. Mix thoroughly. Add vinegar and beef bouillon. Stir until smooth. Add lemon juice and beaten eggs and stir until well-blended. Place over barely boiling water and cook, stirring constantly until mixture has thickened. Remove from heat and add food coloring. Beat with a whisk until smooth and slightly bubbly. Serve hot.
MEXICAN HOT CHOCOLATE FONDUE
Combine cream, milk, and cinnamon in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-low heat, watching until small bubbles appear around the edge of the pan. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes. Discard cinnamon sticks.
Gradually stir in chocolate with cream mixture until melted and smooth. Add espresso powder, ground chipotle, and vanilla. Continue to cook over low heat for 1 minute, stirring well.
Transfer to fondue pot kept on low heat.
Lara is a parenting journalist and mother of three. She and her husband have been hosting couples’ Valentine fondue parties off and on for over 10 years.
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