Friday, January 04, 2013

Fondue to Ring in the New

When I was a young woman in my 20s, I spent every Christmas with my mom, stepdad, and almost-grandma in West Virginia. We had a wonderful celebration every year & Christmas Eve dinner was often cheese fondue. The first time I ever remember having fondue was when we visited my almost-grandma in St. Pete when I was 9. I loved it then, I love it now. So, when I started making a Cuban Nochebuena feast on Christmas Eve, New Year's Eve seemed like a festive new spot for the fondue dinner. Jeannene & I have enjoyed the tradition. This year, we decided to kick it up with a chocolate fondue for dessert, which was a lovely addition!

Traditional Cheese Fondue
1 clove garlic
1 c. dry white wine
8 oz. shredded Gruyère
8 oz. shredded Jarlsberg
2 tsp. cornstarch
3 tbsp. kirsch (unfortunately, this can be hard to find & there really is no substitute. Try a good liquor store, but if you can't find it, use an equal amount of dry white wine)
Salt & pepper
Freshly-grated nutmeg
Very lightly steamed/blanched veggies
French bread cubes

Rub the inside of a heavy pot with the garlic cloves, allowing errant shreds to remain. Add wine and bring to a boil. Add cheese, a little bit at a time (this is important), stirring to melt before adding more. Reduce heat to quite low, keeping a watchful eye so that the cheese doesn't scorch. Dissolve cornstarch in kirsch and add to cheese mixture. Season with salt, pepper, and nutmeg. Put in fondue pot over low flame (I use small cans of Sterno). Serve with bread & veggies. If it needs to be thinned, add a very small amount of hot wine. Leftovers are great over English muffins or toast points in the morning.

Chocolate Fondue
12 oz. chocolate chips (the better the chocolate, the better the fondue---I used Ghirardelli this year.)
2/3 c. heavy cream
2 tbsp. Triple Sec or other liqueur (such as Chambord or Kahlúa)
Cut-up fruit (we like bananas & strawberries best)
Cubes of pound cake, marshmallows, cookies (Jeannene had tiny macaroons this year), pretzels, etc.

Heat the chocolate & cream over low heat, stirring constantly until melted. Remove from heat and add liqueur. Put into fondue pot & keep warm over a very low flame. Serve with fruit, etc.

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