Learn to make it from the experts at the Melting Pot
As we already know, sharing a meal brings people together. But your chances of having a fun and engaging dining experience are almost guaranteed to be better by adding fondue (a French term meaning “to melt.”) Imagine kids dropping their phones and reaching for skewers to dip crusts of baguette into a warm and creamy cheese concoction, all followed by smiles and chocolate fondue for dessert. It’s a nice picture, isn’t it?
“There’s something really special that happens when you bring people together around the fondue pot,” says John Arcediano, general manager and marketing coordinator for the Melting Pot. “It gets them excited for what’s about to happen at the table.” The popular restaurant chain has fondue pots built into the booths, where servers prepare each dish in front of customers. These range from fondue-style entrees with fresh protein that diners cook in oil or broth to rich cheese and chocolate courses.
Fortunately, you can recreate that experience at home with a variety of savory and dessert recipes. And despite that daunting-looking consistency, you too can become a fondue master by following these simple steps. Remember: all fondues start with a liquid base. Cheese fondues typically use vegetable broth, white wine, or beer, depending on the style you choose to prepare.
Spinach Artichoke Cheese Fondue
1/2 cup vegetable broth
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1 cup shredded Emmentaler-Fontina cheese blend
Chopped fresh spinach (about 1/2 cup)
1/2 cup chopped artichoke hearts
1 tablespoon parmesan cheese
Begin by setting your double boiler fondue pot to high heat, about 500 degrees. Steam will begin to rise, which is your signal to add the liquid base. Once the base comes to simmer, add two cloves of minced garlic. Reduce heat to medium and add spinach. In a bowl, sprinkle the cornstarch over the shredded cheese and lightly toss until it coats the cheese. The Melting Pot cooks use cornstarch, which is gluten free; you can also use flour for this step. Add the shredded cheese to the pot gradually (about one-third at a time) and stir until it has melted down. When you dip a fork into it and pull, you should see soft strands come up with it. Add artichoke hearts, parmesan, and Tabasco to taste.
Serve the fondue with small pieces of baguette and pretzel bread. Fresh Granny Smith apple pieces and a variety of vegetables (broccoli, celery, carrots, etc.) are also good for dipping.
Milk Chocolate Fondue
1/2 to 3/4 cup water
1 pound (roughly) milk chocolate wafers
For dipping: Strawberries, banana slices, marshmallows, or pastry of your choice. Set your fondue pot to 500 degrees and wait until steam begins to rise. Add some of the wafers to the pot. When the wafers start to melt, slowly add the water in small amounts while mixing to get a thin consistency. Continue adding the rest of the chocolate wafers. Reduce the heat to 130 degrees, and the fondue is ready to serve.
Bethany Bushen is a Rochester area freelance writer. Follow her at @BRBushen.