Okay, here’s the thing. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a fondue pot. What you’re making is warm chocolate dip. If you’re like me, you’ll make lots of it—I doubled the recipe.

Even if you do have a fondue pot, you’re still going to cook this delectable concoction on the stove, over low heat. I am not an exacting cook, and I hate having to do things like use double boilers and/or worry about things burning. This recipe, I found, was amazingly easy. The chocolate melted, I added cream, sugar, butter, salt, and stirred; it came together and thickened and turned a wonderful rich, dark brown. If you do have a fondue pot, you’ll transfer the finished sauce into it and leave it on low (or low flame, if you have the kind with real flames underneath); otherwise, people can just gather around the stove, dip, transfer to plates, and enjoy. (Guests always hang out in the kitchen anyway, right?)

Traditionally, you dip fruits, pound cake, maybe marshmallows in fondue. Here’s what I did; I put out a lot of cookies (Pecan Sandies, Nutter Butters, Chips Ahoy), and some pretzels (small square lattice-work types, with a lot of surface for scooping chocolate), and maraschino cherries, stems still attached. The beauty of this selection? No fondue forks necessary. There is something completely decadent about dipping cherries by their stems into warm, creamy chocolate, and then dropping them directly into your (or a friend’s) mouth. And believe me, you have never had an Oreo until you’ve had one smothered in rich chocolate sauce. Wow.

Enough foreplay. This is what you need:

Six 1-ounce squares of unsweetened chocolate 1 ½ cups sugar 1 cup light cream ½ cup butter or margarine 1/8 teaspoon salt 3 tablespoons crème de cacao or orange-flavored liqueur       (I used half as much vanilla extract.)

And this is what you do:

Melt chocolate over low heat in saucepan. Add sugar, cream, butter, and salt. Cook, stirring constantly, about five minutes or till thickened. Stir in liqueur. Makes 6 to 8 servings.

Another glorious detail: if have any leftover sauce, and you refrigerate it, it turns into fudge in the refrigerator overnight.

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This recipe is from the 1972 edition of the Better Homes and Gardens Fondue and Tabletop Cooking. In addition to being chock full of tasty recipes, this fun little manual also gives advice on how to set a festive table and how to be and effervescent hostess. They just don’t write ‘em like they used to.

Pecan Sandies brought to you by the Keebler elves; all the other cookies are Nabisco. Not that this really matters. Just thought you’d like to know.

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