Two Fondues {A Mild Cheese and A Hot Fudge} ~ Friday Night Dinner

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Fondue is wonderful for a romantic dinner~ bite size pieces of breads and fruit for dipping in chocolate or cheese.  It's the perfect dinner to enjoy slowly while talking and sipping wine.  But have you ever thought of fondue for a family dinner?  Our family has enjoyed fondue many times.  But to do it well for the whole family or for many guests, you need to know a few things.

If you are having fondue for more than two, it is better not to cook while sitting down with everyone~ no raw meat or fish.  The pot of oil gets overwhelmed and the small bits of meat take forever to cook.  This doesn't mean you must limit your menu to bread, cheese, fruit and chocolate {thought there's nothing wrong with that}.  Instead, have some meat that is cooked ahead of time and ready to be enjoyed along with the other items or could be dipped in the cheese fondue.

A favorite of ours is crab cakes.  Make them in miniature and have a platter of them ready to enjoy.  Some other favorites for dipping are carrots, but the ones with the stems still intact.  My children think these are the cutest things ever.  One dipper for cheese fondue that I wasn't certain about at first is sweet pickles.  But after the first try, I was hooked {and I don't even like sweet pickles normally}.

As with any other Friday Night Dinner, it has to be easy for me and fun for the family.  Fondue is both of those.  Prepare the tray of assorted dippers, including fun and different items, ahead of time.  Then make the fondue and set it up with the prepared items, sit back and enjoy the food and conversation.  Take time to catch up with your family.  They are important.

Mild Cheese Fondue
12 oz can of beer {for milder taste, use a pale brew such as Blue Moon}
3 c shredded Swiss
1 c shredded mild Cheddar
1 c shredded sharp Cheddar
2 tbsp corn starch

Toss shredded cheeses with corn starch.
In a saucepan over medium~low heat, bring beer to a simmer.  Add cheese, a handful at a time and stir. Don't add another handful until the previous one has melted, otherwise the cheese will not melt properly and will goop up.  Once all the cheese is added, stir and heat til smooth.  Transfer to a warm fondue pot.

Chocolate Fudge Fondue
1 c semi~sweet chocolate chips
3 tbsp butter
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
3 tbsp cream
1 tsp vanilla

Place all ingredients in saucepan and heat over medium heat to melt butter and chocolate chips, stirring constantly.  Transfer to fondue pot to keep warm and melted.

A favorite for the kids~ Nutter Butters dipped in hot fudge fondue.

Tips and Tricks~
*Make fondue ahead of time and reheat over low heat on the stove top, then move to warm fondue pot.  This works for both cheese and chocolate fondues.
*For fresh veggies, lightly steam or parboil.  You can find baby Yukon in the produce section of the store, and they are great parboiled and dipped in cheese fondue.
*Prepare all dippers ahead of time and store in zip bags.  Assemble on a platter shortly before serving.
*If you want to use steak, chicken or pork to serve with the cheese, cut into bite size pieces.  Season and saute shortly before serving.
*Another excellent choice is seafood.  Use cold cocktail shrimp or mini crab cakes.  I make crab cakes and store in the fridge.  About an hour before party time, place on a oven proof serving platter, cover with foil and reheat in the oven set to 300F.  Once heated, lower oven temp to 220F to keep warm.
*For a quick fondue dinner, pick up ready to go dippers at the store~ prepackaged raw veggies, meatballs, chicken nuggets, a variety of breads {try a sweet raisin nut bread} for cheese fondue dipping.  For chocolate, grab some strawberries, packaged cookies {my daughter LOVED Nutter Butters with the chocolate} and a pound loaf.  All that is left to do is heat up the fondue.

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