Remember fondue? It’s been around for awhile – originating in Switzerland, France, and Italy in the 19th century – but it didn’t arrive in the United States until the 1960s. The communal dish involves a pot, usually filled with melted cheese, but sometimes melted chocolate, into which people dip pieces of bread or fruit using long fondue forks.
It’s a lot of fun, which is why I bought a fondue pot back in 1997. I used it a few times – once for chocolate and once or twice for cheese – and it’s been tucked away in our pantry since 1998. Today’s recipe, which dips watermelon cubes in spicy Mayan dark chocolate, might cause me to dust off the old fondue set for the first time since the last millennium.
If you decide to do the same, here are a few fun fondue facts to make your dipping experience even better:
1. Ladies, if you drop your food in the fondue pot, tradition dictates that you must kiss your neighbors.
2. Gentlemen, if you do the same, you must buy a round of drinks. Is that better than kissing your neighbors? I guess that depends upon who’s sitting next to you.
3. Fondue arrived in the U.S. in the 1960s and became a full-fledged fad after a traveler brought a fondue set back from Switzerland after winning it during a ski trip. (It was the Americans who invented chocolate fondue. Before then, it was always cheese.)
4. Like any party dip, double-dipping is discouraged. The dipping fork should also not be eaten from. Instead, it should be used to transport the dipped morsel from the fondue pot to your plate.
Watermelon and Spicy Mayan Dark Chocolate Fondue
4 cups watermelon cut into 1″ cubes
1 /2 cup fat-free half-and-half + extra reserve
3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
1 /2 teaspoon chili powder
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 /2 teaspoon coriander
8 ounces dark chocolate (at least 60% cocoa powder)
Wrap watermelon cubes in paper towels to soak up excess fluid. Set aside.
In a medium saucepan, bring half-and-half and spices to almost a simmer. Remove from heat and stir in chocolate. Let chocolate melt, then continue to stir until thoroughly blended and creamy. Adjust flavors. Transfer the fondue to a fondue pot and heat according to directions. (If fondue becomes too thick, stir in extra reserve half-and-half, 1 tablespoon at a time, to desired consistency.)
Place watermelon cubes on a platter with fondue forks or skewers.