Wednesday, February 10, 2010

I'm in the mood for love...

...and I love chocolate.

So, what's a Swiss miss like me going to lay on my lovies this Valentine's Day...I'm thinking we're gonna have a fondue freak out.

Not that Charlie and the kids are first-time fonduers.

In fact, Carly's last birthday party was a Swiss-themed extravaganza complete with cheese and chocolate fondues, a cake shaped like a dairy cow, Swiss flag decor everywhere(toothpicks, napkin rings, candles, balloons, t-shirts), Edelweiss confetti...and even paper napkins with Heidi's little face emblazoned on them...

Here's the famous cow cake. I tried to make her stand upright but she fall down...go boom. I think I like her this way better...

Why, you ask, would a fourteen-year-old girl yearn for such a celebration (other than her DNA-encoded obsession with cheese and chocolate)? Perhaps it has something to do with the GIANT box of Swiss tchotkes collecting dust on our junk closet shelf. Mind you, this is just the tip of the Matterhorn, so to speak.

We've got pillows, beach towels, calendars, books and fanny packs shoved into drawers all over the house and pounds and pounds of Swiss chocolate that is, let's just say, no longer with us. Check out those Heidi paper napkins in the middle of the box...awesome!

You see, about ten years ago, Mom got a letter from a long-lost Swiss cousin. She had just had a baby girl (my cousin, not my Mom!) and, as an English teacher, was anxious to connect her young family with some real-live American relatives. So, these cousins (we're talking the real deal here...peasant blouses, dirndl skirts, snow-capped mountains, shuttered chalets, yodel music, cows with bells...the works) made the connection and over the years we've gotten to know each other by trading trinkets via airmail.

By now, Mildred (the little Swiss girl) must have the most impressive collection of Barney, Brittany and Hannah Montana t-shirts, tote bags and pencil sharpeners of any girl her side of the Alps. For sure, more than any family that flies the Stars and Stripes, we must hold the record for most wacky items brandishing the Swiss flag. I bet you don't have egg cups like these. In fact, I bet you don't have egg cups, period.

Anyway...back to fondue.

Aside from being one of the most delicious desserts on the planet, it is also one of the fastest and easiest to prepare. And, since we're talking Valentine's Day, what could be more romantic than gazing through the flicker of the fondue flame into each other's eyes over a silken pot of molten chocolate. Or, in our case, what could be more fun than wrestling over that same pot with two sugar-crazed kids and big daddy over the last cube of pound cake (the more likely scenario at our Valentine's table). Whatever your scene...chocolate fondue never disappoints.

Let's get fonduing...

Chop 8 ounces of great-tasting chocolate (I like bittersweet). This is Ghirardelli 60% Cacao Bittersweet.

Pour 1/2 cup of cream into a heavy saucepan and heat until it begins to steam (don't let it boil). Remove the pot from the heat, add the chopped chocolate and let stand for a minute or so while the chocolate begins to melt.

Stir the mixture until it is smooth and glossy then stir in 1-3 tablespoons of Grand Marnier, or to taste. I think I'll stick with 1 tablespoon this time so flames don't shoot out of my kids' ears's pretty potent stuff but I think it makes the fondue special. Try other liqueur flavors if you're not an orange fan or a little vanilla and grated orange zest if you choose to go booze-free.

Pour the mixture into your fondue pot and place over a low flame to keep warm. Or, if you don't have a fondue pot or are too lazy to get it out of the attic (that would be me), serve it out of the pot or spoon it into a pre-warmed bowl. Reheat it if necessary but it'll probably go so fast you won't need to.

Serve with your favorite dipping stuff. Here are some ideas: cubed firm pound cake, cubed Rice Krispy treats, pineapple, strawberries, bananas, sliced pears, sliced apples, marshmallows, pretzels, dried fruit...

Chocolate Fondue

  • 1/2 cup of cream
Stir in until smooth:
  • 8 ounces of chopped chocolate (I use bittersweet).
Add in:
  • 1-3 Tablespoons Grand Marnier

Spoon into fondue pot over low flame and serve with your favorite dipping treats.

Serves: 4-6