For option two in our Stay In This Valentine’s Day series, we wanted to put something together that the whole family can enjoy!
For some of us, the ones we love extend beyond our partner — and it just might not seem right (or feasible!) not to include them in the Valentine’s Day love fest! So we decided on a fondue party! Fun for kids (and grown-ups) of all ages.
Fondue is actually quite simple to prepare, and doesn’t require any special equipment. If you don’t have a fondue pot, you can melt your cheese or chocolate over very low heat on the stove. Or in a crock pot. (If you need to reheat half-way through the meal, that’s OK too.)
Of course, Whole Foods Bradburn has a very nice fondue set as well, if you’d like to treat yourself to a little fancy this Valentine’s day!
Some fondue tips:
- If you don’t have fondue forks, you can use bamboo skewers instead. (Watch out for the pointy ends with very young kids.)
- If you’re worried about little double dippers, leave the pot on the stove and serve the melty goodness in small individual ramekins or dishes.
- You can omit the alcohol in any fondue recipe (if you’re worried about it for yourself or your kiddos). Omit entirely for dessert fondue, and replace with chicken broth for cheese fondue recipes.
I decided on a menu with a traditional cheese fondue for the main course and a chocolate fondue for dessert! You can customize the dippers to your family’s preferences, but I’ve included some suggestions with the recipes below.
You can chop up the fruits and vegetables and grate the cheese as much as several days in advance. Steam any veggies up to a day in advance and refrigerate, then bring to room temperature before serving. Bread should be cut up a few hours in advance to prevent it from being too crumbly.
A note about refrigerating dippers: whatever you dip should be as dry as possible when you dip to ensure the cheese and chocolate stick to the dipper.
Put the cheese fondue on to melt and finish cutting up and drying dippers while the cheese melts. Have a second pot ready for the chocolate, and put all the ingredients in, ready to melt as soon as dinner is finished.
Only cook cheese and chocolate until just melted, or they will get weird. If your fondue starts to get too thick after a while, a tablespoon or two of milk will help thin it.
I got pre-cut veggies from Whole Foods that made the prep for this go so fast. I like to steam the really crunchy veggies — like broccoli, cauliflower, and carrots — until they’re just crisp-tender, to make skewering and dipping a little easier. The cheesemongers at the Whole Foods cheese counter can advise you on the best cheeses to choose — I got very lucky and found both Gruyere and a sharp, smoked cheddar on sale! And the bakery department recommended sourdough as an excellent choice for dipping — regular or rosemary, your choice.
You might also raid the salad bar and/or your pantry to see what other ideas for fondue dippers you can come up with — get creative! (I saw grilled veggies on the hot bar the last time I was at Whole Foods Bradburn that would be STELLAR.) Here are a few ideas:
- Dried figs or other dried fruit
- Pearl onions (blanched)
- Candied walnuts
- Bacon, slices of sausage, or cocktail weenies
- Tater tots
- Mini bagels
- Butternut squash (roasted)
- Corn on the cob
- Beef jerky
After the cheese course, we enjoyed a simple chocolate fondue for dessert:
Start with 12 ounces dark chocolate — I used 365 Semi-Sweet Chocolate chips, which saved me from chopping — and add 1 cup heavy cream and 3 tablespoons of butter. Melt over low heat until just combined, then serve with your choice of dippers!
I chose a pre-cut fruit cup from the Whole Foods produce section that included fresh berries and papaya, marshmallows, and an assortment of cookies from the bakery! I also picked up some raspberry sanding sugar from the baking aisle to add a little extra special fun.
Sweet dippers could also include:
- Fresh fruits such as strawberries, cherries, banana & orange slices, pineapple chunks
- Dried fruit, Figs
- Thin cookies, Shortbread, Lady Fingers, Biscotti
- Whole nuts
- Cake cubes or mini cupcakes!
Part of the fun of fondue is trying lots of different dippers! You might also add toppings like sprinkles, sanding sugars, or crushed nuts.
Our fondue party was a BIG hit with my 3-yr-old. She loved dipping in her own little ramekin of “cheese dip” and we gave her toothpicks to make it even more special.
The biggest surprise of the night? Broccoli was by far the preferred dipper for the cheese. My husband couldn’t get over how good he thought it tasted, and even my 3-yr-old asked for seconds and THIRDS of broccoli.
And my sweetheart was pretty excited to get this soapstone treasure as a little Valentine gift as well. Whole Foods has gifts that are appropriate for anyone in your family.
Want to throw your own Family Fondue Fun Party?
Our friends at Whole Foods Market Bradburn are giving away a $25 gift certificate so you can have your own fondue party. Visit the Whole Foods Bradburn Facebook page to enter to win! (Please note, you must be able to pick up the gift certificate at the Bradburn Whole Foods location to win.)