It's no secret that I love chocolate. What I usually manage to keep hidden is the fact that I never outgrew my desire to play with my food. So dipping things in chocolate is very intriguing to me!


If I can eat chocolate while playing with my food, I'm in dessert heaven.


About Chocolate Fondue

The Swiss found that cheese which had become hard with age would soften and be edible again when heated with a little wine.


It became customary for people to gather around a fire, melting cheese and dipping stale bread or whatever else was available into the cheese.


The first fondue parties were born out of the necessity to make stale bread and cheese edible!


In 1956 the popularity of fondue soared when a famous New York chef, Konrad Engli, started a fondue craze that's still popular today. He introduced a method of cooking meat cubes in hot oil. In 1964 he followed that with the first chocolate fondue, marrying chocolate and fondue forever.


Chocolate fondue can be as simple as melting chocolate with heavy cream, creating a smooth, silky sauce for dipping. More elaborate recipes call for adding liqueurs, peanut butter, chopped nuts or mints, or various spices including cinnamon or cayenne pepper.


Suitable dippers for chocolate fondue include most fruits such as whole strawberries, pineapple spears, dried apricots, apple or pear slices or grapes. Feel free to try your favorite fruits, too.


There are many other items that are fun for dipping in addition to fruit. Try cubes of pound cake, pretzels, assorted cookies, marshmallows, cubes of Rice Krispie treats and brownie bites. Use your imagination and see what other dippers you can find.


Chocolate Peanut Butter Fondue

12 ounces semi-sweet chocolate pieces


1/2 cup smooth peanut butter


Directions:


Melt chocolate in a saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly. When chocolate has melted, stir in peanut butter. Mix until smooth. Pour into fondue pot (if using) and serve with dippers.


Chocolate-Chocolate Fondue

15 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped


3 tablespoons unsalted butter


2 cups heavy cream


1/3 cup sugar


Directions:


Melt chocolate and butter in saucepan over low heat, mixing well. In a separate saucepan heat cream over medium heat until hot. Add sugar and stir until dissolved. Slowly add cream mixture to chocolate mixture, stirring until smooth. Pour into fondue pot (if using) and serve with dippers.


Bittersweet Orange Chocolate Fondue

9 ounces bittersweet chocolate, broken into small pieces


1/2 cup heavy cream


2 tablespoons orange liqueur


Directions:


In a saucepan, combine chocolate and cream. Heat on low, stirring occasionally, until chocolate has melted and mixture is smooth. Add liqueur and mix well. Pour into fondue pot (if using) and serve with dippers.


Do you have a topic you'd like reading about? Would you like to share your favorite chocolate fondue recipe or dipper? Email chef Karen at karen@letkarencook.com or comment at Everyday Gourmet Aiken on Facebook and your suggestion may be featured in her next article!


Karen Tempel, an aspiring chef since she could reach the countertops, has been delighting friends and family with tempting treats for most of her life. She is the owner of Everyday Gourmet, a custom caterer in the Aiken area. Visit her website at www.LetKarenCook.com or email her at Karen@LetKarenCook.com.


Chocolate Facts

• It's estimated that the cacao tree evolved 4,000 years ago in the rain forests around the Amazon and Essequibo Rivers. The year round high temperatures and humidity were the ideal climate for the cacao tree.


• The ancestors of the Mayan Indians brought the cacao tree out of the rain forest to Central America. The word chocolate derives from the Mayan word “xocolati” meaning “bitter water.”


• Cacao beans were once so highly prized that they were used as money.


• In 1704 chocolate was introduced to Germany and immediately taxed as a luxury. (Thank goodness that's not the case anymore!)


• In 1764 the Baker Chocolate Company was established in Massachusetts and chocolate was manufactured in America for the first time.


• In 1868 John Cadbury mass-marketed the first boxes of chocolate candies.


• In 1907 Hershey's kisses were first introduced.


• In 1921 Hershey's began wrapping their kisses by machine and added the distinctive flag to the wrapping.


• In 1939 the first M&Ms were produced, covering chocolate with a protective candy coating.