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The Gallivanting Gourmand
Greg Duncan
Greg Duncan
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is a freelance writer based in the Montreal region. He is particularly keen about good food. In his day job, Greg is the executive director of the Quebec Community Newspapers Association.

His previous columns are archived HERE.

Posted 02.10.04
Montreal

GREG DUNCAN

Sweetie, you want to dip some?

Want to do something sweet for your sweetheart?

Then fire up the fondue, ladies and gents. If you don't get with the Valentine's Day program you'll be toast, as they say. Better plan early and thus a column here that gives you a week or two to make your plans.

It's the thought that counts, but a little effort goes a long way in a household. Sure, you can always take your loved one out to a nice restaurant, get a babysitter perhaps, and gaze lovingly into each others' eyes over the table and there's nothing wrong with that. However, a nice home-alone setting can make for fun times, too.

Why not plan a classic dinner for two and cozy up on the couch for a movie? And here's a tip for the guys: now is your chance to make good on that promise to watch that romantic drama that she has been after you about. Bridges of Madison County anyone?

Whatever you do, forgo the urge to show her your love with a screening of Terminator 3 or the latest WWE cage match. Otherwise, you just may have one of your own on your hands. They say chocolate is the way to a woman's heart, but I say men follow the same path.

The following recipe is a little involved and should you wish, there are little tubs of chocolate fondue for the microwave available in most grocery stores these days. They are pretty good and will allow more time for you-know-what. Just serve a splash of sparkling wine or champagne with it to add a touch of flare.

Grand Marnier chocolate fondue

    1 orange
  • 1/2 cup cream
  • 1/2 pound bittersweet or semisweet chocolate
  • 1 or 2 tablespoons orange juice
  • /4 to 1/2 cup Grand Marnier, to taste
  • Strawberries and cake cubes (for dipping)
Strip the zest from the orange using a zester, vegetable peeler, grater or sharp knife. Do not use any of the white pith. Place the zest and the cream in a small saucepan and bring to a simmer over low heat.

Meanwhile, grate the chocolate and place in a fondue pot or clean metal bowl. Simmer the cream for a minute or so, then shut off the heat and let steep a few more minutes.

Strain the hot cream into the chocolate, discarding the zest. Melt the chocolate slowly. If necessary, place the pot or bowl over some slowly simmering water to aid melting. Stir chocolate and cream together. Squeeze a tablespoon or two of orange juice into the chocolate, and add about 1/4 cup of the Grand Marnier. Taste and add more Grand Marnier if desired.

Serve the melted chocolate suspended over a double boiler filled with hot water.

If possible, don't serve it directly over a candle flame, as this can burn the chocolate and cause the mixture to separate.

Surround the chocolate pot with cut fruit, whole berries and pieces of cake to skewer and dip. Use a high-quality bittersweet or semisweet chocolate, or a mixture of the two, depending on your personal preference. Valhrona, Tobler, Lindt, and Callebaut are just a few fine chocolate makers. When it comes to the dippers, you're bound only by the season and your preference.

Strawberries and cake cubes are favourites. Other berries, such as raspberries and blueberries, are good choices, as well as grapes. Cut fruit is good - try apples, kiwis, bananas, and sectioned oranges. Or try halved fruit, such as fresh figs and apricots. And don't forget dried fruits such as apricots and cranberries.

You can also experiment with the liqueur you use. Cordials such as Grand Marnier and Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur) are best because of their high sugar content, but you can use brandy and rum, too.

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