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At Home Fondue w/o a Fondue Set


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Dear Don Rockwellians--

I'm hosting a fondue fest this weekend, featuring 3 kinds of fondue (cheese, broth, and chocolate), plus some traditional Swiss side dishes (zopf, spaetzli, nuesslisalat, etc.). I'm mapping out the logistics, and have run into some questions:

* Does anyone have a recommended recipe for cheese or chinois (broth) fondue? I was an exchange student to Switzerland in high school, but paid much more attention to eating the fondue there than to preparing it.

* How can I keep the fondue pots sufficiently hot on my dinner table without having to buy a fondue set? I might be able to borrow one pot from a friend, but since we'll be 8 people, we'll probably take 2 tables and thus necessitate two pots. Can I use a regular pot atop a hot plate? Are there any battery operated hot plates, or will I have to deal with a cord? What about putting it on a rack above tea lights? (or does that only work with tea kettles?)


- KT

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I'm not your best source for this, but my impression is that tea lights will only work for tiny (single-serving) pots, which defeats two-thirds of the fun of having fondue. For something bigger like this (and I highly recommend the pictured wine from Apremont btw), you might want to consider a Sterno-based setup.

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Please let me know how this goes. Just yesterday I ordered an electric fondue set on Amazon for an early Christmas present.

After I took a my daughter to melting pot she has become obsessed with trying it at home.

What type of chocolate are you using?

If I didn't have a fondue set, I would melt on a double boiler and keep warm with a sterno set up (Party City has very inexpensive disposable set ups that work perfect for a party).

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We use an electric hot plate when we have more than one pot of fondue. Just watch the temperature and it should be fine.

My recipe is for a classic cheese fondue, and is from a restaurant somewhere in/near Zermatt - family and friends have used this since the early 70's.

1 lb. swiss cheese, grated (gruyere, emmental, whatever - my mom uses basic supermarket swiss, since they live in the middle of nowhere and until not that long ago, gruyere was foreign)

1/8 tsp garlic powder (again, this is from the 70's - some people prefer to rub the inside of the pot with garlic cloves)

2 tbsp. flour

1 tsp. salt

ground black pepper

1-1/2 cups white wine (I tend toward Alsace wines - you want it dry)

healthy splash of cognac (or kirsch)

Heat wine. Mix cheese, garlic powder, flour, salt, pepper. Add these to wine when near a boil. stir until melted and consistency is smooth. Finish with the cognac or kirsch. A grating of nutmeg can also be added.

In addition to bread, we always have broccoli, cauliflower, potatoes, pears, and apples.

For the chocolate, the better the chocolate, the better the fondue. I guess on the cream to chocolate proportion - lots of recipes on line. You can add almost any kind of liquor for flavor. If you have lots of good things to dip - pound cake, angel food cake, marshmallows, strawberries, kiwi (awesome with chocolate) bananas, and clementines, you can get away with a lot on the chocolate side. My kids make it with chocolate chips or wilbur buds, and half and half, for an afterschool snack sometimes.

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