12 Surprisingly Delicious Items to Dip in Fondue

iStock.com/Solstock
iStock.com/Solstock

Dipping items in a communal pot of gooey, warm, melted cheese or chocolate can be a fun experience, and full restaurants have capitalized on the trend. Common dippers for cheese fondue include cubes of bread, apple slices, and raw vegetables. With chocolate fondue, you’re probably familiar with typical dippers such as strawberries, marshmallows, and pretzels. But if you want to take your fondue experience up a notch, making it way more interesting and creative, check out these 12 surprisingly delicious items to dip in fondue.

1. BEEF JERKY

Dessert jerky, anyone? Although you might have already dipped cubes of steak or ham into cheese fondue, try using beef jerky as a dipper. You can certainly try pieces of beef jerky with cheese fondue, but the combination of the salty jerky with the salty melted cheese might give you sodium overload. To get a uniquely sweet, salty taste, a la chocolate-covered bacon, dip beef or turkey jerky into chocolate fondue.

2. STEAMED VEGETABLES

Crudités are a common cheese fondue option, but you can get more creative by using steamed veggies as dippers instead. Try steaming carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, and celery, or branch out by using cooked mushrooms, artichoke hearts, green beans, or asparagus tips.

3. AVOCADO

Avocados are creamy, rich, and healthy, and pair surprisingly well with chocolate fondue. Vegan dessert recipes often use avocado in place of butter due to its creamy consistency, and avocado dipped in chocolate is a great match. Because ripe avocados can be soft and a bit messy, though, you might want to put cubes of avocado in the freezer before dipping them in chocolate.

4. INSECTS

The Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium in New Orleans serves chocolate fondue … with insects as dippers. Visitors gather around a chocolate fondue fountain and dip toothpicks with crickets and wax worms into the chocolate. The nutty flavor of the insects reportedly pairs well with the warm chocolate.

5. PASTA

Rather than ordering a plate of macaroni and cheese, just add some chunkier pasta to your cheese fondue spread. So that you don't lose your piece of pasta in the vat of melted cheese, choose firm pasta shapes that are not too small or too long—and ones you can easily skewer. Ravioli, tortellini, and rigatoni work well, but you can also experiment with farfalle, rotelle, or fusilli.

6. JALAPEÑO PEPPERS

Spicy and sweet is a popular flavor combination, so why not dip jalapeños into chocolate fondue? Make sure to take the seeds out of the peppers if you want them slightly less hot, and use gloves so you don’t irritate your skin.

7. MINT LEAVES

If you like York Peppermint Patties, try dipping mint leaves into chocolate fondue. Look for fresh sprigs of mint, and hold the sprig by its stem to dip it into the chocolate. Either eat it straight up, wait until the chocolate hardens, or use the chocolate-covered mint leaves as a topper on another dessert such as ice cream or a slice of pie.

8. CURED MEATS

Rather than dipping kebobs of cooked chicken or beef into cheese fondue, try using cured meats instead for a different flavor profile. The options are many, but you can start with cubes or chunks of salami, soppressata, or chorizo. If you have slices of cured meat rather than chunks, you can simply wrap the slice around a thick skewer. Also, cooked bacon in chocolate fondue will attain a salty and sweet taste combo, and if the bacon is crispy enough, it can act as its own skewer.

9. POTATOES AND POTATO CHIPS

Roasted baby potatoes are the perfect size for dipping into cheese fondue, and the taste is similar to a cheesy baked potato. You don’t have to stop with roasted potatoes, though. Try potato chips (use tongs to dip them), potato skins, or thick-cut French fries—dipping these into cheese or chocolate tastes great. Not sure if you’ll like the taste of potatoes plus chocolate? Lay's makes milk chocolate covered potato chips, which will give you a good idea of how potatoes and chocolate fondue will taste.

10. PICKLES

Pickles and cheese make a surprisingly delicious combination. Although you can dip any type of gherkin into fondue, cornichons reportedly work quite well because of their size and crunchiness. Just make sure they're not straight out of the jar—you don't want too much brine pooling in the cheese pot.

11. FROZEN FRUIT

Soft fruits such as mango, kiwi, peach, and papaya might be difficult to dip into chocolate fondue without the fruit dissolving or getting lost in the gooey pot. But these fruits taste delicious with a chocolate coating, so simply cut up bite-sized pieces of fruit and freeze them. They’ll be much easier to dip, and you can pat yourself on the back for eating your daily serving of fruits (even if they are covered in chocolate).

12. BALLS OF COOKIE DOUGH

Pieces of cake, brownies, and cookies are commonly dipped in chocolate fondue, but balls of cookie dough are an all-too-often overlooked alternative. Make your favorite type of cookie dough (chocolate chip, snickerdoodle, peanut butter, and oatmeal work well), roll the dough into balls, and dip them into a pot of melted chocolate. To save time, just buy prepackaged frozen cookie dough and let it thaw a little before dipping. The warm chocolate with the cold cookie dough is delightful.

To Avoid Grocery Shopping, Quarantined Americans Are Reviving Wartime-Era Victory Gardens

Zbynek Pospisil/iStock via Getty Images
Zbynek Pospisil/iStock via Getty Images

For many people practicing social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic, the supermarket is the one place where it's practically impossible to avoid crowds. When they do brave the stores, shoppers may struggle to find what they're looking for, with panic buyers clearing shelves of everything from pasta to produce. Though the circumstances are different, citizens across the country are responding to the novel coronavirus outbreak by reviving a trend from the First and Second World Wars. As The New York Times reports, victory gardens are making a comeback.

Victory gardens started in 1917 as a way to supplement the commercial farming disrupted by World War I. As farmers became soldiers and farms became battlefields in Europe, the U.S. agricultural industry suddenly found itself responsible for feeding its own citizens as well as its allies abroad. Encouraging people to plant crops in any available space they could find—including rooftops, parks, backyards, empty lots, and fire escapes—was a way to lighten the burden.

The U.S. government formed the National War Garden Commission weeks before joining the war. Over the next couple of years, pamphlets were distributed to citizens showing them which seeds to plant and how to protect them from pests and diseases. One booklet read “The War Garden of 1918 must become the Victory Garden of 1919.”

Thanks to the effort, 3 million new gardens were cultivated in America in 1917 and 5.2 million appeared in 1918. The initiative resurfaced during World War II, and again, it was a huge success. At its peak, home and community gardens were producing nearly 40 percent of all fresh vegetables in the country.

For more than 70 years, victory gardens only existed as a footnote in history books, but now, they're seeing a resurgence. The U.S. isn't at war, and as of now there's no risk of the country running out of food, but the chaos and fear surrounding trips to the grocery stores are inspiring many people to turn to their own backyards. As many industries are struggling, seed companies are seeing a spike in business. Organizations dedicated to gardening are also seeing the trends. Soul Fire Farm in upstate New York normally builds about 10 community gardens outside homes, schools, and churches a year. But since the start of the novel coronavirus crisis, they've received 50 requests for community gardens.

A home garden is only useful in times of national hardship if it actually produces something. If you're interested in building a sustainable home garden and limiting your trips to the supermarket, here are some easy plants to start with and gardening mistakes to avoid.

[h/t The New York Times]

America’s 10 Most Hated Easter Candies

Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
Peeps are all out of cluck when it comes to confectionery popularity contests.
William Thomas Cain/Getty Images

Whether you celebrate Easter as a religious holiday or not, it’s an opportune time to welcome the sunny, flora-filled season of spring with a basket or two of your favorite candy. And when it comes to deciding which Easter-themed confections belong in that basket, people have pretty strong opinions.

This year, CandyStore.com surveyed more than 19,000 customers to find out which sugary treats are widely considered the worst. If you’re a traditionalist, this may come as a shock: Cadbury Creme Eggs, Peeps, and solid chocolate bunnies are the top three on the list, and generic jelly beans landed in the ninth spot. While Peeps have long been polarizing, it’s a little surprising that the other three classics have so few supporters. Based on some comments left by participants, it seems like people are just really particular about the distinctions between certain types of candy.

Generic jelly beans, for example, were deemed old and bland, but people adore gourmet jelly beans, which were the fifth most popular Easter candy. Similarly, people thought Cadbury Creme Eggs were messy and low-quality, while Cadbury Mini Eggs—which topped the list of best candies—were considered inexplicably delicious and even “addictive.” And many candy lovers prefer hollow chocolate bunnies to solid ones, which people explained were simply “too much.” One participant even likened solid bunnies to bricks.

candystore.com's worst easter candies
The pretty pastel shades of bunny corn don't seem to be fooling the large contingent of candy corn haters.
CandyStore.com

If there’s one undeniable takeaway from the list of worst candies, it’s that a large portion of the population isn’t keen on chewy marshmallow treats in general. The eighth spot went to Hot Tamales Peeps, and Brach’s Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits—which one person christened “the zombie bunny catacomb statue candy”—sits at number six.

Take a look at the full list below, and read more enlightening (and entertaining) survey comments here.

  1. Cadbury Creme Eggs
  1. Peeps
  1. Solid chocolate bunnies
  1. Bunny Corn
  1. Marshmallow Chicks & Rabbits
  1. Chocolate crosses
  1. Twix Eggs
  1. Hot Tamales Peeps
  1. Generic jelly beans
  1. Fluffy Stuff Cotton Tails

[h/t CandyStore.com]

SECTIONS

arrow
LIVE SMARTER