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Fondue is essentially any pot of sauce in which pieces of food are dipped and enjoyed in a communal setting. Cheese fondue dipping sauce is perhaps the most well known, although sweet versions are also popular. Fondue dipping sauce, whether of the chocolate or cheese variety, can be a delicious and interactive appetizer or meal option. One of the best tips for making this type of dish is to cook the fondue at a low and steady heat. Keeping it warm in a specialized pot will help to prevent separation and make it possible for you and others to enjoy your fondue dipping sauce for a longer period of time. When making chocolate fondue, a good tip is to add the chocolate once the other ingredients are off of the heat. For cheese fondue, a small amount of alcohol should be used to prevent the cheese from curdling or becoming stringy.
One of the most important parts of making a fondue dipping sauce, whether you are preparing a meat, cheese or chocolate fondue, is to keep it at a low temperature throughout the entire cooking process. Although this will make the preparation slightly longer, it will help to ensure that all of the ingredients melt together seamlessly. Even if the mixture is taking a long time to thicken, it is important not to boil the fondue dipping sauce in an attempt to force it to reduce. Boiling will change the properties of the liquid base and can cause cheese or chocolate to separate or burn, ruining the dish.
Almost as important as how you cook fondue is what you put the creamy dip in once you’re ready to serve it. When left to cool, fondue will often separate, becoming stringy or even gritty, depending on the recipe and the ingredients that you use; however, cold fondue, no matter what it is made of, is not usually desirable. A fondue pot, whether heated or simply insulated, will keep the dip warm and smooth as you and others eat it. This is especially important when the fondue dipping sauce is served as an appetizer or at a fondue party, where guests often snack on the dip for several hours.
Chocolate, especially types with high sugar contents, can burn relatively easily, altering the flavor of the finished dish and often causing the fondue dipping sauce to develop a gritty flavor. One of the best tips for making fondue is to add the chocolate in small quantities once the pot is taken off of the heat. This will help the chocolate to melt gently and evenly, producing a velvety smooth dipping sauce.
Oftentimes, people shy away from making cheese fondue with actual cheese, rather than cheese product, because properly melting cheese and keeping it smooth can be difficult. This, however, is the reason that the vast majority of fondue recipes call for alcohol, as alcohol stabilizes the melted cheese, preventing it from clumping or becoming stringy without the use of a stabilizing base such as a bechamel sauce. Therefore, one of the best tips for making fondue is to not try to substitute the alcohol called for in a recipe with another liquid. If you do not like the flavor of alcohol in your food, you can choose a lightly-flavored wine or spirit, and use a smaller amount than called for, to achieve the same creamy, cheesy fondue without an overpowering flavor.
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