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Wedding cakes were a specialty at my bakery, and occasionally I'd get asked if we could also provide a chocolate fountain for the wedding. Apologetically, I'd decline, but I'd be chuckling deep down inside. Though I've never had the pleasure to experience its delights firsthand, I can close my eyes and picture it now—the chocolate fountain, wreathed in mountains of berries...grown adults in a Willy Wonka-esque frenzy, toppling over each other with sharp pointy sticks as they jab at the fruit and chocolate...chocolate ricocheting and splattering onto silk ties and satin dresses as the berry laden sticks are jammed into the chocolate streams.
Chocolate fondue, on the other hand, is a much more civilized creature. Both desserts involve plunging speared yummies (usually fruit or cake) into a bath of chocolate, but instead of feeling like you're grazing at the public water fountain, fondue is an intimate communal affair. Fondue is not for crowds. It's for a group of friends, or a romantic tête-à-tête, hovering and dunking over a warm bowl of this intoxicating potion. The word fondue comes from the French verb fondre, meaning "to melt". Sounds just right for Valentine's Day.
Even more appealing is the fact that chocolate fondue is ridiculously easy to make. It's basically a warm chocolate sauce, which at its richest and simplest is nothing more than chocolate and cream.
To please myself and to make it adult friendly, I always add a few tablespoons of bourbon. The effect is a warm and lingering boozy jolt. For those of you who own a fondue pot, pull it out of the closet, dust it off, and fire up the sterno. For those without (including myself), simply set the bowl of fondue over a pot of boiled water to keep the chocolate sauce warm and gooey. And what to dip? I prefer either cake or chunks of lightly toasted bread—the open crumb will sop up the decadent chocolate sauce like a sponge.
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About the Author: Yvonne Ruperti is a food writer, recipe developer, former bakery owner, and author of The Complete Idiot's Guide To Easy Artisan Bread. You can also watch her culinary stylings on the America's Test Kitchen television show. She presently lives in Singapore and is currently at work constructing her new blog, "ShopHouseCook".