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When I was in my mid-20s, some girlfriends and I started a Valentine’s Day tradition. Being that we were all single at the time, we chose to spend the evening of February 14 together instead of pining over ex-boyfriends and lost loves.
My friend Cindy would be on cocktail duty. Ingrid was in charge of selecting the movie. Una always brought the appetizers. And I took care of making our chosen dinner — fondue.
We’d start with a pot of cheese fondue with bread, steamed broccoli and grilled chicken for dipping. Once we’d had our fill of the savory course, I’d bring out a small pot of chocolate fondue with strawberries, orange segments, pound cake cubes and pretzel sticks. It was such a fun way to celebrate our loving friendships on a day most often reserved for romance.
That group of girlfriends has since scattered across the country and most of us are married or partnered off, so Valentine’s Day looks a little different now than it did then. But I still firmly believe that there’s no better time of year for a pot of fondue than during chilly mid-February.
Before you start cooking, read these tips:
— Chocolate fondue couldn’t be easier to make, but you will need a double boiler. Just set a heatproof bowl over a pot of simmering water to make your own if need be.
— Ina’s recipe calls for semisweet chocolate, but you’re welcome to use a higher percentage of cacao for a more intense bite.
— The sky is the limit as far as your dippers go. Graham crackers, apple slices and banana rounds are all delicious enrobed in warm chocolate.
Marisa McClellan is a food writer and canning teacher who lives in Center City Philadelphia. Find more of her food (all cooked up in her 80-square-foot kitchen) at her blog, Food in Jars. Her second cookbook, Preserving by the Pint: Quick Seasonal Canning for Small Spaces, is now available for pre-order.