With the fondue set came stories of fondue parties in the seventies ("It was like the internet back then!" my friend's mother said. "These parties were THAT popular!") and a recipe for cheddar-beer fondue. From a book from the seventies, yellowed with age. Very exciting. I think I may just have to have a party with giant, cartoon flower invitations--and may find a gaudy orange rug for the occasion.
So, pretty much the minute I returned home from the Long Island Rail Road, fondue kit in tow (after an unsuccessful search for sterno at Target--"Try the stationery department," the crew said), we set it up, invited friends over, and started playing.
You don't need a fondue kit. Or even a double-boiler. Really, you need a pan big enough to boil water, a metal bowl or smaller pan that fits inside it, and forks. Just boil water in the bigger pan, put the bowl/pan inside, and put the ingredients in there. (You could probably even use a microwave and a nuke-safe bowl.) We ended up using three tea lights instead of sterno, and that worked well--and seemed like much less of a fire hazard.
We found these recipes to be surprisingly delicious--and easy.
Cheese/beer fondue (real 1970s recipe!):
Note that this does not taste like beer, but the beer is necessary to the recipe.
1 tablespoon butter
1 garlic clove, peeled and cut in half
1/2 pound (or 8 ounces) grated or small-diced cheddar. Sharp is good.
1/2 cup beer--I used Yuengling's half porter/half beer mix, but anything dark will do
1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
Bread and veggies for dunking in the cheese
1. Rub the inside of the bowl or small pan with the garlic, then drop the clove halves in. Add the tablespoon of butter.
2. Turn up the heat under the outer pan (with the water) to medium, until the water starts to simmer and the butter in the inner pan melts.
3. Toss the grated (or finely diced, if you got it sliced from a deli) cheddar with the tablespoon of flour, then add to the butter and garlic. Add the 1/2 cup beer.
4. Get someone to stir the cheese mixture until it melts--you do need to stir constantly.
5. While the cheese is melting, lightly toast your bread--and, after it's toasted, cut into chunks.
6. When the cheese is melted and mixture well-combined, stir. It's best to keep it in something warm or over a few candles, as it will re-solidify quickly.
7. Eat with toasted bread chunks, veggies, whatever you have on hand. It. Is. Amazing.
Chocolate fondue (GK's recipe):
You will need:
1. One 16oz bag of milk chocolate or semi-sweet chips. I like Ghirardelli. You can also use 16 oz of Toblerone. Oh-em-gee. Melting (chocolate) Swiss Alps never tasted so good.
2. 1/3 to 1/2 cup half and half or cream
3. 1.5 tsp good vanilla extract
Combine all ingredients in inner bowl, as described above (this would probably also work in the microwave, if you use a non-metal pan and you nuke in 30-second increments and stir between each). Melt. Eat with cubes of pound cake, strawberries, or whatever fruit you have on hand. Pretty darn amazing.