Sometimes the best date nights are wonderfully cheesy, literally and figuratively. That's why this Valentine's Day we're making a simple fondue for two. A molten pot of Gruyére and fontina is just the thing to ignite some romance during a cozy night in. White wine and kirsch, plus lemon juice and freshly grated nutmeg, amp up the flavors of the cheeses, and a spoonful of cornstarch prevents the fondue from breaking. The best part is that it's easy to share and lends itself well to all kinds of dippers. Our test kitchen's picks? Roasted fingerling potatoes, toasted sourdough, breadsticks, sliced fennel and apple, and dry salami, but feel free to experiment. After all, there are very few foods that don't pair well with melted cheese! Serve a crisp, citrusy salad alongside to cut the richness, then round out the menu with pink gin martinis to drink and chocolate-mousse parfaits for dessert.
Pink Gin Martinis
Kick off our heartwarming Valentine's day menu with these pink drinks. Just like in the classic cocktail pink gin, Angostura bitters add a blush tinge to the martinis. A splash of kirsch adds complexity, and each glass is garnished with Luxardo cherries and a lemon twist. Not familiar with kirsch? German for "cherry water," it's a clear brandy made from, you guessed it, distilled cherries. A bottle is an excellent investment not only for cocktails and fondue, but also for all kinds of desserts, from cakes to cookies.
Radicchio Salad with Chopped-Lemon Dressing
Using the lemon flesh in addition to the usual juice yields a bright, zingy dressing for radicchio and fresh mint. Soaking the radicchio in cold water before spinning dry tempers its natural bitterness and keeps the leaves nice and crunchy.
Fondue for Two
If you prepare the dippers ahead of time, the fondue itself comes together in mere minutes. Cook the fingerling potatoes and sourdough bread cubes on the same baking sheet in the oven to minimize cleanup.
Store-bought spice cookies are layered with a mouthwatering chocolate mousse in this make-ahead dessert. The mousse is light as a feather but intensely chocolatey, thanks to the trifecta of dark chocolate, cocoa powder, and espresso.