Adding milk or cream to fondue... why?

I would like to try my hand at making chocolate fondue. It seems like all the recipes I’ve seen are calling for a dairy additive like milk or cream. Or a couple said I could use oil instead. I’m wondering why fondue needs liquid, though. I’ve never made it before (and I’m no chef!), so please let me know what I’m missing here.
[li]Is the added stuff really necessary? Couldn’t I just melt a few ounces of chocolate chips and dip into that? It’d be much simpler.[/li][li]I’ve read that you have to be very careful not to let a single drop of water touch melted chocolate, or else it will seize up and turn nasty. How is it that these other liquids can be put into melted chocolate without causing it to seize? Especially milk, which Google says is composed of about 87% water.[/li][li]If I do decide to add milk, does it matter whether it’s skim or 2% or whole? Or is half-and-half or pure cream an all-round better choice?[/li][/ul]
Fonduest thanks in advance! :smiley:

  1. Yes, otherwise the chocolate will harden as it gets down to an edible temperature.
  2. It is *a drop *that causes it to seize - of water or milk or cream or liqueur. The trick is to add more liquid to loosen it up.
  3. I find that half and half works best. And add a pinch of kosher salt to the chocolate.

Thanks for the info! I might pick up cream and oil and experiment a little. =)

I just melt the chocolate, no problems with it going hard. Maybe it depends on your fondue device? Mine is a simple bowl with a candle under it, you need to be careful not to let the candle run for too long or the chocolate burns.

I presume that the salt is getting dissolved? In this case, using kosher salt specifically shouldn’t matter, and you’d get just the same results by using the ordinary cheap stuff.

Yes, you need the cream. Essentially what you’re doing is adding a fat which isn’t solid at room temperature. You need it to make the chocolate dip into dip, rather than chocolate coating. Savory cheese fondues also require added liquid, although
there’s also a way to do those with beer. :slight_smile:

These other liquids contain lipids. It’s not the water per se that causes the problems, it’s that oil and water don’t mix, and you need some kind of fat in order to make cocoa into chocolate. Using a liquid that’s already fat in suspension with sugar allows you incorporate the chocolate smoothly.

The more fat is involved, the better it’ll go. Heavy whipping cream makes the fondue into a sort of ganache, which firms but doesn’t turn into a brick at room temperature. I wouldn’t use anything with less fat than half-and-half, unless you are also planning on adding unsalted butter. Definitely don’t use skim. If you’re lactose-intolerant, coconut milk (which is coconut oil + sugar in suspension) will also work.

Good luck!

Thank you all for the tips! I ended up using vegetable oil, and made a pretty food porn picture of the result with a banana, raspberries, and angel food cake (it’s not exactly Food Network quality, but looks much nicer than the original photo). I wanted pound cake, but Meijer didn’t have any. Still, it was great. The raspberries were the best part!

I don’t have a fondue pot, so I just microwaved it in short bursts in a ceramic bowl.

Kosher salt is $3 for a 5 lb box, how much cheaper do you want to get?

Not really. The iodine in iodized salt ruins the taste. If you have the uniodized (popcorn) salt that should work.

The best chocolate fondue I’ve ever had was from a little restaurant in Banff, Canada. I got the recipe from the chef and the trick was using Toblerone bars. Half milk chocolate and half dark.

I’m highly amused by the MST3K in the background. Looks like you did a good job!

Next time, if you have two sauce pans that can “nest” in each other, fill the bottom one with enough water to form a barrier between it and the other pot. (Even better is if you have a metal bowl that’ll fit over one of your sauce or stock pots. I don’t, so this is my method. Apparently you can also do this with a large glass bowl as well.) You’ll have a little more temperature control and it’s easier to see how much progress you’ve made if you’re not having to watch the microwave door.

If you use a glass bowl, make sure it’s Pyrex or something similar, that can withstand the heat of the stove. Shards of glass are not a good flavoring for fondue. Also make sure that the water in the bottom isn’t so deep that the bottom of the bowl is resting in it. You want a layer of steam between the two.

The setup is called a double-boiler or a bain marie (“married/mated bath”). It works wonders. Because the heat is transferred by steam from the boiling water rather than directly from the burner, this means that the bowl or pan on top will never get any hotter than 212F (or 100C, if you’re into that sort of thing). Stuff in the top half will melt but not burn for the same reason you can dry your coat on a steam radiator without setting it on fire. You can ruin chocolate or cheese sauces in a double-boiler, but you kind of have to try. :smiley:

(Man, this place needs a “SCIENCE!” smiley…)