Couples, singles and “it’s complicated” members of the world rejoice. This Valentine’s Day, you can have a no-fuss meal and the only pair you have to worry about is your preferred beverage and favorite cheese.

For the recipes below we purchased a few of our favorite go-to cheeses and then (after giving them a quick taste test) paired them with the alcohol that we felt was best. In this case, we were pairing with beer, wine and whiskey. Since fondue only takes a few minutes to whip up, I encourage you to be creative, mix n’ match combinations that you and your fellow fonduers enjoy the most. If you’re dining as a couple, it’s good to make these very important life decisions together. Ask your partner questions such as, “Which cheese tastes the best with whiskey?” and “Taste this. Do you think it needs more nutmeg?”  If you’re avoiding cupid this holiday, don’t worry, the only love you have to declare is to your favored flavor combo.

Fondue Pots

Fondue Vintage Collection

I crush on anything vintage and love interactive dining, so clearly fondue is a perfect meal for me. I have a small collection of vintage fondue pots that I’ve found at thrift shops or flea markets (and a few that I stole from my mom.)

Cheese FondueIf you’re on the hunt for a vintage fondue pot, it’s important to find one that is in good working order without any rust or too much wear from previous owners. Of course, you can always splurge and buy a new one. I prefer to use fondue pots that accommodate sterno over the tea-light heated or electric varieties, and I always use a sterno cover to help moderate the heat level. Don’t forget your fondue forks!  Forks usually come with a fondue set in the box but be sure to check that they are included. Things could be messy (and painful) if you don’t use the proper equipment.

Decisions, decisions: Which fondue pot to use?

In this case I felt that the retro, fat-handled brown fondue pot would go best with a beer fondue.  The silver pot screamed Mad Men mid-century style and reminded me of a cocktail shaker, so I chose that one to use for the whiskey and cheese. The sweet green fondue pot would be for wine.  We dipped rosemary-infused goodies into that one, so the colors blended well.

Victory Brewing Company Beer and Cheddar Fondue

Beer Fondue

I like beer but I’m not in love with predominantly hoppy beers. My friends, however, love a bite of hop so this fondue (made with Headwaters IPA) was perfect for them. I happily ate it, but would probably opt for Victory’s Whirlwind or Golden Monkey if I were making this fondue for myself. It’s all personal preference.

Recipe (serves two)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Victory Beer (in this case Headwaters Pale Ale)
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon of mustard (we used Herlocher’s Dipping Mustard)
  • 1 teaspoon of hot sauce (we used Sriracha)
  • 2 cups of extra sharp white cheddar, shredded
  • 1 ½ tablespoons cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

Directions:

Beer Fondue, In the Making

Heat the first four ingredients in a saucepan and simmer for about two minutes. Add cheese one cup at a time and whisk into the simmering liquid. Once that is combined, add the cornstarch, previously mixed to a paste with water, and whisk until thick with uniform consistency. When in doubt, add more of the cornstarch/water mixture and whisk until it’s just right. Add more beer if it’s too thick. Note: If you add beer towards the end, the beer will not reduce and the flavor will be more intense. Once you have reached your desired consistency, heat the sterno under your fondue pot and transfer the mixture to the fondue pot.

IMG_0370Dippables:

  • Cured meats (we chose a spicy Italian sausage)
  • Soft pretzels

Drink:

  • The rest of the beer from your six pack—duh.

Overheard:

  • “I can really taste the beer, and I like it.”
  • “Pretzels and mustard are one of my favorite combinations and the mustard really shines through in this.”
  • “Oops! I just dropped fondue in my beer!”

Chaddsford Winery Pinot Grigio and Fontina and Swiss Fondue

Wine Fondue

Recipe (serves two)

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup of Brandywine Valley Wine Trail White Wine
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup of fontina, shredded
  • 1 cup of swiss, shredded
  • 1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon lemon juice)
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper
  • ½ teaspoon paprika

Directions:

Wine & Cheese Fondue, Step-By-Step

Heat the wine and garlic in a saucepan and simmer for about two minutes. Add cheese one cup at a time and whisk into the liquid. Whisk in dry mustard, nutmeg, paprika. Once that is combined, add the cornstarch, previously mixed to a paste with lemon juice, and whisk until it is thick and has uniform consistency. Heat the sterno under your fondue pot and then transfer the mixture to the fondue pot.

Dippables:

Fondue Potatoes

  • Herbed Potatoes  (make by boiling bite-sized pieces of red bliss potato in vegetable broth with fresh rosemary and thyme for 10 minutes or until tender; drain liquid and chill until ready to dip!)
  • Rosemary Bread, cubed.

Drink:

  • Pair with any local wine from The Brandywine Valley Wine Trail.  In this case, we had the rest of the Pinot Grigio from Chaddsford Winery.

Overheard:

  • “Wine and cheese is a great combination and it’s even better when it’s melty. This one is my favorite.”
  • “The rosemary and herbs in the bread and the potatoes pair really well with this and has a nice balance or earthiness and richness.”
  • “There’s fondue in your beard.”

Wine Fondue

Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye Whiskey and Gruyere Fondue

Whiskey Fondue

Recipe (serves two)

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup vegetable broth
  • ¼ cup whiskey
  • ½ tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups of Gruyere
  • 1 ½ tablespoon cornstarch (mixed with 1 tablespoon water)
  • ½ teaspoon dry mustard
  • ½ teaspoon nutmeg
  • ½ teaspoon white pepper

Directions:

Heat the broth, whiskey and garlic in a saucepan and simmer for about two minutes. Add cheese one cup at a time and whisk into the liquid. Whisk in dry mustard, nutmeg, white pepper. Once that is combined, add the cornstarch, previously mixed to a paste with water, and whisk until it is thick and has uniform consistency. Heat the sterno under your fondue pot and then transfer the mixture to the fondue pot.

Dippables:

  • French Baguette, cubed
  • Blanched Broccoli

Drink:

Whiskey, How-to

Drink Recipe:

  • 2 oz. Dad’s Hat Pennsylvania Rye
  • 1 oz. Vermouth, Sweet
  • 2 Dashes Angostura or Peychaud’s Bitters
  • 1 Whole Maraschino Cherry

Add all ingredients over ice in a shaker. Stir and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Overheard:

  • “Mmmm. This one is good but the whiskey is more subtle.”
  • “I can’t taste the whiskey as much in this one. (This was addressed quickly by having a guest pour some directly into the fondue pot.”
  • “Can you taste it now?”
  • “Yeah, I can taste it A LOT now…and I think I’m getting drunk from it.”
  • “Cheese shot!”

Satan’s Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Chip Stout and Dark Chocolate Fondue

Chocolate Fondue

It wouldn’t be a party without dessert and this sexy stout-spiked dark chocolate fondue makes for a sinful last course. To keep it super sinful we used Satan’s Bake Sale Mint Chocolate Chip Stout, which is made by Spring House Brewing Company in Pennsylvania.

Recipe (serves two)

Chocolate FondueIngredients:

  • 1 3-oz bar artisanal dark chocolate with no more than 62 percent cacao, broken in small pieces
  • 3 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons chocolate stout
  • 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla
  • pinch of salt

Directions:

Melt chocolate in a double boiler over simmering water, I recommend making it directly in your double-boiler fondue pot. Heat cream in a small, heavy saucepan until simmering. Be careful not to let it boil. Whisk melted chocolate until smooth, then swirl in the heated cream. Add stout, vanilla and salt; stir until blended. Heat sterno under the fondue pot and transfer mixture  into double boiler fondue pot and serve.

Dippables:

  • Hazelnut biscotti
  • Strawberries (cleaned and halved)
  • Sliced Pears

Drink:

  • Chocolate Stout! Or.. finish the drinks you started from the first three courses.

Overheard:

  • “Oh. My. God. So good.”
  • “Yup. That’s nice.”
  • “There are so many drinks to choose from.”
  • “I may prefer this with regular chocolate stout instead of a mint-infused one.”
  • “Put a (fondue) fork in me, I’m done.”

Fondue Finale

Do you fondue? What are your favorite recipes and combinations? We’d love to hear ‘em!

Photographs credited to Mary Bigham.