Thursday, January 01, 2015

New Year's Eve Fondue, December 31, 2014

When I was a kid, my almost-grandma often made fondue for Christmas Eve. This doesn't really fit my lifestyle, but I love the tradition, so I adapted it to New Year's Eve, instead, since I can't be in my hometown for the ball drop. I have always hated the pressure to "do something fun" on New Year's Eve and I don't ever want the last meal of the year to turn out to be crappy (as my anniversary dinner at Victoria's Delights was on the 30th), so fondue and board games it is---and has been for a number of years now.

We always do a classic cheese fondue, with French bread cubes and blanched veggies for dipping. For dessert, we do a chocolate fondue, with all kinds of wonderful dippers. I usually use some kind of fruity liqueur like Grand Marnier or Chambord for the chocolate fondue, but this year, we had some great peppermint marshmallows as dippers, so that wouldn't work. We were given a bottle of Godiva liqueur as a gift, so I used that this year. It was fab!

In addition to the peppermint marshmallows, this year we dipped graham crackers, Rice Krispie treat cubes, thin gingersnaps, state capital cookies, pretzel rods, strawberries, banana slices, and pineapple chunks into our chocolate fondue. With our cheese fondue, this year, we had the bread cubes, broccoli, cauliflower, and asparagus.

We also ended up having an appetizer while playing Scattergories. My aunt Holly's family makes these scrumptious little nibbles for just about every gathering they have and they vanish within seconds of coming out of the oven. They're called Gloria Hardingtons (or just Glorias, which Jeannene noted sounds, appropriately, like "glorious") after the family friend from whom Holly's mom got the recipe. June, Holly's mommy, used to sometimes gussy them up with some scallions or bacon crumbles on top, but I like them just plain.

Gloria Hardingtons
Mix equal parts shredded Swiss and Cheddar cheeses, with just enough mayonnaise to hold the mixture together. Add a handful of sliced black olives. Spread on party rye, place on a baking sheet (you might want to do a couple-few sheets of them, though), and broil until they're quite browned and bubbling. Devour. 

New Year’s Eve Cheese Fondue

1 clove garlic
1 c. dry white wine
8 oz. Gruyere cheese, grated
8 oz. Jarlsberg cheese, grated
2 tsp. cornstarch
3 tbsp. kirsch
Salt & pepper
Nutmeg (freshly grated, if at all possible)
French bread cubes, veggies

Rub a heavy pot with garlic (if you have a fondue pot that can go right on the stovetop, so much the better), leaving shreds of it in the pot. Add wine & bring to a boil. On a lower heat, add cheese, in very small increments and stirring well to melt it in between additions, until all the cheese is incorporated. It is terribly, terribly important not to add all the cheese at once. I cannot stress enough how important it is to add just a small bit at a time. If you don’t, the texture of your fondue will not be what it should. When the cheese is melted, mix the cornstarch with the kirsch and stir to dissolve it. The kirsch may be hard to find and it can be omitted, but the flavor will suffer, so, if at all possible, do not skip this. Add the mixture to the cheese. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with a little nutmeg. Keep over a very low flame, either on the stove or, preferably, over sterno. Serve with bread & veggies. If it’s too thick, you can thin it with a little hot wine. By the way, this sauce is also terrific over toast the next morning. Serves 4-6.

New Year's Eve Chocolate Fondue
12 oz. good quality semi-sweet chocolate chips (I used Ghirardelli this year)
2/3 c. heavy whipping cream
2 tbsp. liqueur

Heat chocolate and cream together, stirring, over low to medium-low heat, until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Keep over a very low flame and serve with fruit and other dippers. Serves 4-6. 

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