Long before there was the shameless, very public display of affection by popping the question via Jumbotron, my dad got very clever with an enormous box of chocolates and some red roses. He went to my mom’s house, sat down on the couch with her, and suggested she should open that box and have a chocolate. My mom ate one. Then another. And another. The box was becoming littered with a lot of those empty little cups. And my dad kept urging her to eat more. It was one of those very, very big boxes…. My mom was starting to feel sick. Finally, unable to watch her continue to pick through the box any longer, he urged her to eat “that one!” And there, stuck very carefully into the bottom of the chocolate, was a ring. I have heard my mom tell this story hundreds of times. And it never gets old. It still makes me happy and weepy at the same time because it is so laced with that romantic, sweet, “I have no qualms about going out on a limb for you” love that is so precious.
Still looking for something special to do for your special someone? What could be sweeter than saying “I love you” with a little chocolate? Fondue has Valentine’s Day written all over it. It is warm. It is sweet. It is chocolate. You can make it at home and share it with someone you love.
February is the perfect time for making fondue. A cold, dark winter night just lends itself to hovering over a warm little pot of something sweet right in the comfort of your own kitchen. If you don’t have a fondue pot, don’t let that stop you. You can make this right on the stove top in a saucepan. If you do have a fondue pot, this is a great excuse to get it out of that high, hard to reach, spot. Grab the long-handled forks, too. If you have kids, get them on board. Kids love chocolate, and they really love fondue!
If you are looking for something a little healthier, this is for you. If you are looking for traditional chocolate fondue, I want you to be happy, too, so I am adding a recipe for that as well. Both are fast and easy. Why make things more complicated than they need to be? I saw a recipe for coconut milk fondue from Jackie Alpers on the Tastebook blog that is a nice alternative for those with food allergies. I used what I had in my pantry – Hershey’s Special Dark Cocoa and Hershey’s Cocoa – and added just a smidge of agave to sweeten. Be sure to taste it first, because it might not need as much sweetening as you think. I ended up using only a teaspoonful of the agave, and that was plenty. While it wasn’t as thick as traditional fondue, it did coat and cling to the strawberries I dipped in it. And, it was really, really good.
Make sure to customize your fondue by thinking about who you are sharing it with. Do they have a favorite cookie? Maybe they are a donut fan. Don’t limit yourself to the obvious pound cake, or angel food cake. You can cut any cake into small dip sized cubes. This will, of course, work better with denser cakes (brownies?). But the point here is to say, “I thought of you. I know you like these things, and this was made just for you.” What could be more romantic than that? Here are some ideas to get you inspired. But don’t let me stifle your creative urges.
Things to dip in fondue:
peanut butter cups
And maybe some small bowls of the following, to dip your chocolate-dipped selections in:
chopped nuts or peanuts
chopped espresso beans
*spread this on first, and then dip in the chocolate
Low-Sugar Dark Chocolate Coconut Milk Fondue
1 14 ounce can unsweetened coconut milk
4 tablespoons dark unsweetened dutch-process cocoa powder
2 tablespoons light unsweetened cocoa powder
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 – 2 tablespoons agave syrup
Warm coconut milk in medium saucepan over low to medium heat. Add cocoa powders and vanilla extract and whisk until well combined and heated throughout, stirring frequently, about 10 minutes. Transfer to fondue pot and serve with dipping items.
If you are more of a traditionalist and interested in indulging, here is a chocolate fondue recipe from Williams-Sonoma that has been adapted from The Fondue Cookbook.
1/2 cup heavy cream
8 ounces semisweet chocolate, finely chopped
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Warm cream in a small saucepan over medium-low heat until steam rises, about 2 – 3 minutes. Remove from heat and add the chocolate, stirring until melted, smooth and creamy. Stir in vanilla.
If you are using a fondue pot, be sure to pre-warm the pot by filling with warm water beforehand. I also like the idea of using your favorite chocolate. We have lots of enticing choices made right here in the Northwest. And you could definitely add a splash of liqueur, especially if you know there is something your special guest is fond of.
Be shameless. Tell someone you love them. And keep that fondue pot out for the weekend. Go for round two with some cheese.