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Chocolate options await Valentine diners

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POSTED: February 7, 2011 12:44 p.m.
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Chocolate covered strawberries can add warmth and flavor to any special dinner.

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Chocolate is a Valentine’s Day must-have. Fondue, just one of the many ways to enjoy the sweet treat, is as popular as ever with lovebirds in search of desserts to share. The warm, melted cocoa concoction is usually served with small slices of fruit, cake or cookies for dipping.
Fondue first made a splash during the 1960s and ’70s, when fondue parties were de rigueur. It’s still a common menu items in restaurants and many eateries offer their own variations on the communal dining experience.
Derived from the French verb fondre, which means to melt, the history of fondue can be traced back to Switzerland. It was originally a peasant dish, serving as a means to use up hardened or old cheese. Diners dipped bits of stale bread into the melted cheese. Traditionally, fondue is a mixture of Gruyere cheese and wine. Konrad Egli, a Swiss restaurateur, developed the idea for a meat-based fondue and introduced fondue bourguignonne at his restaurant in 1956. He cooked cubes of raw meat by dipping them into hot oil and gave them to customers to eat on the spot. Recipes for chocolate fondue came along in the 1960s.
According to etiquette rules on fonduebits.com, the fork used to dip food into the fondue caquelon (pot) should be used to transfer the food to a diner’s plate. The food should not be eaten directly from the dipping fork. Also, dipping a morsel of food, taking a bite and then dipping it back into the pot is just as bad as touching the fondue fork with one’s mouth.
For an easy, at-home fondue recipe, simply mix chocolate chunks or chips over a double boiler with one tablespoon of butter and a small container of room-temperature heavy cream. The butter and the cream will keep the melted chocolate smooth and prevent the chocolate from becoming grainy or firm. Serve a variety of dipping foods, like pound cake cubes or slices of cantaloupe or pineapple. Of course, fresh strawberries and chocolate are always a good match.

 

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