Scene 1: A typical Latter-day Saint home. New and different family home evening refreshments have been taxing Mom’s imagination. One Monday afternoon she has a smashing idea. That evening as the family members gather round for home evening, the smiles and laughter quickly erupt as the fondue pot is the center of a truly family-centered activity. Big brother helps little sister fish her marshmallow out of peanut butter sauce, and the twins switch forks in the cheese fondue to the dismay of only themselves. The evening is a success!

Scene 2: It’s Saturday noon. Sister Barton has just come home from a roadshow rehearsal to face a hungry family. In the middle of the rehearsal she remembered she had forgotten to get the hamburger out of the freezer, but it was too late then. As she gazes into the refrigerator, chock-ful of many leftovers, she has a brainstorm. You guessed it. Fondue! She quickly opens a can of cheese soup and shreds some aging cheese for one pot, and mixes up some chocolate sauce for another. Then she empties the refrigerator, putting all leftover dunkables in little dishes on the table. As the family sits down to a full lunch table, no one would ever guess that this meal hadn’t been planned as a special occasion.

Scene 3: The home of Sally and Mike, newlyweds. They have just moved into the ward and are anxious to get acquainted. Sally loves parties, but Mike’s tuition fees leave little money in the budget for entertaining. So … she calls three other couples whose money situation is similar and invites each to bring a fondue pot filled with a dip and some items to dip. The Larsens bring cheese with French bread; the Hammonds, peanut butter fondue with bananas, marshmallows, and angelfood cake squares; the Hills, oil and bread dough with honey butter, to make instant scones. Sally furnishes a thickened beef broth and a variety of cooked and raw vegetables to dunk. She also prepares a crisp green salad, chilled punch, and lots of long forks. After the evening each leaves with a full stomach—and some new friends.

What is fondue, you ask? It is a sauce into which other foods are dipped and coated. It is generally served in a special pot or dish right on the table, with a lighted candle or wick beneath the pot to keep the sauce warm. Guests use long forks to dip their chunks of food into the sauce.

Fonduing is rapidly becoming a favorite activity of many people, young and old alike. Fondue is easy to serve, with most of the preparation done ahead of time. It can be served formally or casually. It can be an appetizer, main course, or dessert. It can bulge with calories or be trimmed to fit the diet of the most rigid calorie counter.

Here are some of our favorite fondue dips and dippers.

Favorite Fondue Dips

1. Beef broth, thickened, or leftover gravy.

2. Cheese sauce: Open 1 can cheese soup and grate a little leftover cheddar cheese into it. Heat just until bubbly (overcooking tends to toughen cheese).

3. Hot cooking oil, into which small beef cubes may be sizzled to desired degree of doneness.

4. Fruit sauce: In the blender, purée any drained canned fruit. In fondue pot, mix 1/2 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon cornstarch. Stir in purée and 3/4 cup evaporated milk or cream. Cook until bubbly. (This is especially good made with berries.)

5. Peanut butter sauce: In fondue pot, mix 1/2 cup creamy peanut butter and 1/2 cup honey. Add 3/4 cup evaporated milk or cream. Heat until bubbly.

6. Chocolate sauce: Mix 1 cup sugar and 2 tablespoons cocoa. Add 2 tablespoons butter and 1 cup evaporated milk and bring to a boil slowly over low heat; simmer for one or two minutes. Cool and add 1 teaspoon vanilla. Reheat for fondue.

7. Marshmallow cream: Add a little hot water to a jar of marshmallow cream and heat.

8. Pudding sauce: Prepare any package pudding mix, following directions on package. Heat in fondue pot until bubbly.

Favorite Fondue Dippers

1. “Pulled bread” (this is my mother’s idea): Using favorite recipe, make one batch bread dough. Stretch the dough out onto a greased cookie sheet; prick the surface with a fork. Let rise and bake till done in 375° F. oven. Break off chunks for dipping into fondue.

2. Angelfood, chocolate, or gingerbread cake squares.

3. Pretzels.

4. Marshmallows.

5. Grapes, berries, pineapple chunks, apple slices, or other fresh fruit.

6. Cubes of raw beef (about 1-inch square).

7. Hot dog or lunch meat cut into small chunks.

8. Meat balls (good wrapped around a cube of cheese).

9. Little balls of bread dough.

10. Raw or cooked pieces of celery, carrots, cauliflower, or other vegetables.

Sister Hill, a homemaker and former schoolteacher, is now a “dormitory parent” at Utah State University, where she also serves as teacher development leader in USU 14th Branch.