Serves 4 to 6; can be doubled or tripled

Cook’s notes: For a wine tasting, it’s hard to go wrong with chocolate, but simple fruit desserts may be a better option at the end of a tasting. I generally want to avoid temperature-sensitive foods for dessert, so that I can put them out midway through the party and then be done. The exception to all this could be chocolate fondue; it’s easy to make ahead and can be served with plenty of fruit, plus cake cubes. I suggest putting out half of the fondue you’ve made, then restocking if needed. Spend the $10 or so for a dessert fondue pot if you’re unlikely to make any other fondue again (these sit over a tealight; look for one with the light as low under the pot as possible, to avoid a burned spot in the middle). Or consider spending more for electric fondue pots. I was skeptical of these, given the lifetime I’d spent learning from my father how to fiddle with the sterno flame to keep our annual cheese fondue from overheating. But, though they lack romance, they are absolutely wonderful, with quick-response temperature control and low settings. They’ll also work better if you’re feeding a crowd. Look for tasty but inexpensive dark chocolate bars (“Pound Plus”) at Trader Joe’s, if there’s one near you.

3/4 cup heavy cream
12 ounces bittersweet chocolate, chopped (you may also use high-quality chips, such as Guittard)
1 tablespoon liqueur of your choice (such as Kahlua, Amaretto, Cognac, Grand Marnier), optional

In a heavy medium pan, bring cream just to a boil. Remove from heat, stir in chocolate, and let stand a few minutes, stirring occasionally. Add liqueur and whisk until smooth. Transfer to a fondue pot and keep warm.

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