Does the thought of chocolate fondue conjure up visions of tacky chocolate fountains being stabbed at by guests holding cotton-ball textured strawberries impaled on tiny spears? Not a very appetizing image. Now, consider this updated idea I recently tried at the Scharffen Berger store in San Francisco's Ferry Building: thick chunks of crusty bread dipped into a mixture of warm bittersweet chocolate and creme fraiche and finished with a small pinch of crunchy sea salt. There, feeling better?At first, I was skeptical when the store clerk at Scharffen Berger offered me a taste of chocolate fondue. But I'm not one to turn down a free sample of chocolate, especially from a chocolatier as revered as Scharffen Berger. Plus, as a food blogger, I had an obligation to say yes. (That's right, I did it for you!) Needless to say, I was very very happy I did.
What set this apart from the icky fondues of my past was first and foremost the quality of chocolate. Scharffen Berger uses their 70% Bittersweet chocolate, mixed with butter, creme fraiche and vanilla. The piece of crusty bread for dipping added texture and introduced that wonderful taste pairing of chocolate and yeast (think chocolate croissant.) But of course, what really put this over the top was the sprinkle of sea salt which made the chocolate taste even more intense. Chocolate fondue, all grown-up.
It's not hard to reproduce this at home. Scharffen Berger has a great recipe on their site. You don't even need a fondue pot (although they are kind of fun.) Place the fondue in the middle of the table in a heavy bowl or even the pot it was made in. Then just tear up a loaf of crusty bread and pass little bowls of flakey sea salt (I like Maldon.) The tiny spears are optional.
Get the recipe: Chocolate Fondue from the Scharffen Berger website.
Related: Hot or Not: Chocolate Fondue
(Image: Dana Velden)