Thursday, August 6, 2009

National Fondue Month!*

In a nation where every cause has its own month and every hobby has its own day, it really shouldn't come as a surprise that the sacred art of all things melty, fondue, has two national days: National Cheese Fondue Day (April 11) and National Chocolate Fondue Day (February 5).

However, two days out of the year just doesn't cut it, in my humble opinion. Fondue deserves an entire month. I hereby decree August to forever be known as National Fondue Month! I may not have the authority of congress to ratify such a statement, but I did sleep at a Holiday Inn Express last night, so what I say goes.

Cyn and I recently picked up a cheapo fondue cookbook on a whim while at our local Pick 'n Save. We usually have fondue about 6 times a year, enough to warrant owning a Cuisinart electric fondue set and have our favorite recipes down by heart. But that's the problem with our fondue nights - we use the same three recipes over and over again. The intent of the new cookbook was to add a little variety to our pot and get the creative juices flowing a bit.

In order to use such a stunning array of recipes in a short time-span, we decided to have a fondue night every weekend in August. We even had an intro week in July and we'll probably have an outro week in September. Not only do we have a higher chance of getting friends to come over in August (you've gotta share fondue), but it's also the month of our seventh anniversary! Plenty to celebrate!

So, please join us in celebrating National Fondue month.

We're trying out meat, cheese, and dessert fondues, along with lots of sauces, but here's a glimpse at the cheese fondues we've had so far and where we're going next:

Brie with caramelized red onions fondue (in a white grape juice base). This is the recipe that preceded our trip to the ER. But man, was it delicious. Brie was an excellent cheese for fondue; it blended well, mellow to the taste with a biting aftertaste, and the thyme paired delightfully.

This cheese and bacon recipe also had onions and mushrooms in Monterey Jack (milk base). This recipe was very close to our typical recipe of bacon and green onions in white Cheddar and Mozzarella with a white Cheddar soup base. Both are excellent. You just can't go wrong with thick-sliced apple wood smoked bacon.

The Monterey Jack wasn't an ideal cheese for fondue - it never fully blended with the base - but it was uniquely fun. It was more like pulling fresh hot curds out of the pot and trying to swallow them whole. An oddly pleasant mouth feel.

Here is this weekend's future fondue: Israeli fondue. Edam cheese with avocados and crème fraîche. A Californian's dream fondue; I'm so excited! I've got the Edam in the fridge and the crème fraîche cultures setting as we speak. Now we just need to find a couple willing to try something new... most of our normal invitees are out of town or previously engaged.

Like I said, we are experimenting with the full gamut of fondues - not just cheese. The dessert varieties have kind of flopped on us though, because we already have the perfect chocolate fondue recipe. It's actually more of a ganache and doesn't require a fondue pot to make or serve it. I'm not sure we'll ever top it. I'm including the recipe below so you can all do your patriotic duty by celebrating National Fondue Month with us.

This (simplified) recipe comes from the bible of sweets baking, "The Secrets of Baking" (which every kitchen should have) by the impeccable Sherry Yard.

Fudge Fondue

1. Chop 8 ounces bittersweet chocolate (about 60% cacao) and place in heatproof bowl appropriate for fondue use. (Baker's brand semisweet works really well)
2. Bring 1/2 cup sweetened condensed milk and 1/2 cup whole milk to a boil in a small saucepan. Pour over chopped chocolate.
3. Let sit for one minute to melt chocolate, and stir slowly to blend.
4. When fondue reaches 98 degrees (eating temperature) add 1/2 teaspoon finely chopped orange zest. Stir to incorporate.
5. Enjoy with small pieces of apples, oranges, bananas, strawberries, marshmallows, angel food cake, and any other delectable thing you have on hand.

Edit: Despite what the by-line says, this was written by Bushchicken. I've really got to stop doing this.


  1. I think you're onto something! We love fondue too, and our anniversary is in August, and we always do fondue for it! We do it for Valentine's Day...cheaper and easier than going out to a crowded restaurant with a pre-set menu.

    Those recipes look amazing. We usually do lame-o chicken and beef broths, and straight milk chocolate and heavy cream (although that is crazy good. pure chocolate dreaminess)

    I did find a good cheese recipe, but it uses beer. But man, is it GOOD.

    You know we'll be celebrating National Fondue Month!

  2. Hey, I miss you guys!!! I love reading your posts and laughing at all the great things your kids say, but then I get sad cause we can't hang out anymore. Any future plans for a trip to the East Coast? You know you've got a free place to stay. Well, hope everything's going well for you guys.

  3. Sounds like a perfect way to spend a rainy, late summer night! I have a fondue pot still sitting in the box-over 15 years- that was a wedding gift (the first time around). Sad, but true, I HAD to have it and it's never been used. I'll have to bust it out to celebrate this month!