Why You Need To Throw A Fondue Party Right About Now

Illustrated by Mary Galloway.
When I was growing up in China, fondue held a certain unattainable luster. It was heavily advertised as a Valentine's Day special at fancy buffets and certain "high-end" ice cream chains (you know, the ones you see on every corner in NYC — in China, those are considered fancy), but the gourmet ritual was costing me a hefty chunk of my allowance. So, for many years, I steered clear of it.

A recent dinner party completely changed that. A friend invited a small group to test her new cast-iron fondue set, which meant we melted all kinds of chocolates and dunked in everything from wafer thins to mini muffins. While our choice of dippers might have been a little odd, there was something uniquely fun and memorable about sitting with friends around a bubbling pot — as if we'd discovered the intimate, indoor version of a bonfire. And, my share of the cost came to less than $15.

If you're thinking of following suit with a DIY fondue soirée, we've got you covered — in melted cheese and chocolate.      
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The Pot
Use this simple, ceramic pot (which comes with forks and a slow-heating tea light) for chocolate fondue.
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The Pot
For cheese fondue, it's important to use a larger, lower pot in order to speed up melting and prevent the mixture from burning.
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The Platter
Display dippers on this three-tiered, glass set. Your guests will feel like they're at a fancy dinner buffet.
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The Bowls
To ward off dripping, use ramekins as a midpoint between dipping and eating.
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The Liquid
Anyone who's ever tried a slice of Valrhona chocolate knows it's the good stuff. Pair a more bitter variety (you can spot it by the high cacao percentage) with sweeter foods.
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The Liquid
A good Swiss fondue requires more than one type of cheese. This blend spares you the headache of mixing and matching.
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The Dippers
Marshmallows may be par for the chocolate-fondue course, but this raspberry-Chambord-liqueur-infused version keeps things interesting.
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The Dippers
Cheese and meat — specifically lemon-and-pistachio salami — are a match made in heaven.
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The Wipes
When dealing with melted chocolate or cheese, accidents happen. Keep spillage in check with these festive napkins.
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