Fondues (and Don'ts)

By: Michelle Buffardi

Do you fondue? Here's how to:

Do: Host a fondue party. Fondue is great any time of year, but winter is an especially perfect time to gather friends to dip carbs into a hot pot of melted cheese.

Don't: Feel pressure. If you're new to fondue, maybe a party isn't right for you. Bring a cheese or chocolate fondue to a party or serve with other snacks on a buffet.

Do: Stick to one course of fondue. Both savory and sweet versions are usually heavy, so a fondue for dinner and one for dessert is a bit much. If you're serving cheesy dips as your main course, serve fruit for dessert. On another night, host a dessert-only fondue party with lots of chocolate or creamy butterscotch fondue.

Don't: Limit yourself. Once you've decided if you're serving savory or sweet fondues, go crazy. Try a swiss fondue and a blue cheese fondue. Or crabmeat and brie and cheddar and hard cider. Think beyond cheese for your first course, too. You can dip bread, vegetables or cubes of cheese in a marinara sauce-like tomato fondue.

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Do: Make enough for everyone. Plan on 4-6 people per fondue pot.

Don't: Go all crazy buying up extra pots if you want to serve multiple versions of fondue. You can if you want to; a decent fondue set will run you about $30-$50, but don't be afraid to ask your friends for help. They've probably got a fondue set at home that they've been dying to use and would be happy to bring it to your party. And in a pinch, you can serve your fondue in a crockpot, or try Jamie Oliver's version (in the top photo); it's served in a plain old bowl.

Do: Do prepare the fondue on the stovetop before transferring it to the fondue pot. Over an alcohol burner or candle alone, the chocolate or cheese won't melt completely or even get hot enough to eat.

Don't: Forget to stir the fondue pot frequently, whether it contains cheese, chocolate, or oil. Stirring distributes the heat, keeps the cheese and chocolate fondue smooth, and prevents scorched spots in the center of the pan.

Do: Serve lots of dippers. Baguette cubes, new potatoes, raw radishes, steamed vegetables (asparagus, broccoli, cauliflower), roasted mushrooms, black bread, cooked shrimp, beef or chicken, apples, pears, roasted onions, sausage and cherry tomatoes are quite dip-able in molten cheese sauce. And for chocolate or other sweet fondues, consider: cake (pound or your favorite leftover cake of choice), marshmallows, sliced fresh fruit (bananas, strawberries, pineapples), orange segments, dried fruit, brownies or biscotti pieces.

Don't: Double dip. Fondue etiquette suggests avoiding much mouth contact with your fondue fork since it goes back into the public pot. Overly conscious fondue-rs will remove their morsel from the fondue fork and eat from a separate plate and fork.

Do: Set the rules of fondue before you serve. Tradition states that if a woman drops her dipper into the pot, she must kiss all of the men at the table, and if a man drops his, he must supply another bottle of wine for the table. Other rules suggest that dipper-droppers are responsible for the after dinner cleanup.

Don't: Live by the rules of others, set your own house rules for your fondue party!

Get started with savory and sweet fondue recipes:

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